Where do your B2B leads come from?

Damandbase.com and Focus.com latest study 2011 Demandbase National Marketing and Sales Study breaks down lead acquisition as follows:

23% of sales leads come from the corporate website

14% come from email campaigns

7% from online ads

3% from social media

I have heard from other lead aggregators that their social and wireless efforts have not paid off so this data seems accurate. There may also be an offset by defining the leads from the online ads compared to the corporate site. Often users follow the ad but do not submit info. Then go back after reviewing other sites from a different URL directly to the site. Bottom line is 23% of sales from corporate websites is significant.

Damandbase conclusion is that corporate sites are still not putting enough content and product / service information to satisfy and persuade the prospective customer. This indicates that the 23% would increase with the correct content and call to action.

Googles latest “Content Farmer” update and how it effects lead generation companies.

I am sure by now you have all heard about Googles latest farmer update that is designed to cut down on sites that are considered content farms to generate ad revenue. Google is rightly so trying to provide more in-depth and targeted results.

“Our goal is simple: to give people the most relevant answers to their queries as quickly as possible…This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites—sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful. At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites—sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on…” – Official Google Blog Feb 24th

Danny Sullivan’s article Number Crunchers: Who Lost In Google’s “Farmer” Algorithm Change? Has some very interesting data on which sites are affected and by how much. I have copied his top 100 sites that are affected below.

There are two effects Google’s changes will have on lead generation.

  1. Many of these sites are used as 3rd party lead gen sites for lead companies that put their lead generation forms and or ads on their site. The immediate effect is less leads will be generated however some of these sites have always delivered poor quality leads some generated by white papers so the effect may not be all that bad for the end user buying a lead and may help the lead industry.
  2. Many lead generations sites improve their organic ranking by providing articles to content farms. By doing this they get high quality inbound links. In a short period of time many of the high quality links will be considered low quality links and will drop the lead gen’s site ranking. This will decrease the number of organic leads they receive effecting their profit margins.

What does this all mean? Perhaps lead quality will improve although there will be less leads. Google will provide better quality results… perhaps but certainly in the short term lead gen companies are going to have to increase their Google PPC campaigns to make up for the offset in acquired leads.

In the top 100 most effected sites below you will see all lead categories effected from education, health, business to business etc.

Sistrix: Most Keyword Rankings Lost
Upon request, Sistrix will send people a full list of 331 domains that were found to have lost in its analysis. With Sistrix’s permission, here are the top 100 domains that suffered losses, sorted by total number of keyword positions lost. Also show is the percentage loss. For example, AssociatedContent.com was found to have 216,419 top rankings before the change, which dropped to 53,512 rankings after — a loss of 162,917, or 75%.

Domain Positions Lost % Loss
associatedcontent.com 162,917 75%
suite101.com 141,469 79%
ezinearticles.com 130,231 71%
hubpages.com 102,820 67%
buzzle.com 62,049 72%
merchantcircle.com 58,666 63%
wisegeek.com 52,084 70%
articlesbase.com 50,909 62%
findarticles.com 44,621 69%
answerbag.com 41,260 61%
examiner.com 39,509 56%
manta.com 36,945 48%
freedownloadscenter.com 34,494 81%
yourdictionary.com 32,981 67%
lovetoknow.com 31,711 64%
trails.com 29,835 78%
thefind.com 29,011 39%
travelpod.com 28,513 68%
brothersoft.com 27,594 40%
docstoc.com 26,650 56%
fixya.com 25,867 42%
howtodothings.com 25,621 77%
mahalo.com 24,135 71%
insiderpages.com 23,346 70%
faqs.org 22,506 67%
prlog.org 22,254 57%
kaboodle.com 21,949 39%
citytowninfo.com 21,615 86%
shopwiki.com 21,528 43%
roadsideamerica.com 21,510 73%
buzzillions.com 21,421 48%
tradekey.com 21,096 56%
essortment.com 20,042 73%
uptake.com 19,655 58%
encyclopedia.com 19,625 51%
helium.com 18,931 66%
wordiq.com 18,877 77%
springerlink.com 18,625 49%
livestrong.com 18,175 38%
business.com 16,743 78%
doityourself.com 16,386 70%
americantowns.com 16,201 62%
prnewswire.com 15,162 70%
cinemablend.com 14,259 72%
epodunk.com 14,190 78%
vodpod.com 13,766 38%
labnol.org 13,541 85%
medicalnewstoday.com 13,426 75%
mytravelguide.com 13,340 69%
highbeam.com 13,324 34%
blogcritics.org 13,312 57%
chacha.com 12,900 48%
retrevo.com 12,601 35%
sharewareconnection.com 12,600 54%
planetware.com 12,387 75%
ptf.com 12,380 41%
digitaltrends.com 12,154 67%
testfreaks.com 11,938 63%
galttech.com 11,804 76%
aceshowbiz.com 11,639 67%
userinstinct.com 11,410 47%
viewpoints.com 11,191 55%
destination360.com 11,167 76%
topshareware.com 11,000 48%
consumeraffairs.com 10,832 80%
onsugar.com 10,699 40%
stateuniversity.com 10,560 70%
allbusiness.com 10,423 63%
blurtit.com 10,331 47%
everything2.com 10,298 76%
kioskea.net 9,781 32%
travelpost.com 9,412 75%
wrongdiagnosis.com 9,293 52%
technorati.com 9,135 67%
whosdatedwho.com 8,986 58%
entrepreneur.com 8,974 75%
slideshare.net 8,909 27%
geek.com 8,632 65%
gizmag.com 8,594 46%
mp3.com 8,577 64%
trendhunter.com 8,539 66%
fotosearch.com 8,473 48%
daniweb.com 8,316 61%
iloveindia.com 8,240 58%
eventful.com 7,948 55%
globalsources.com 7,927 34%
songkick.com 7,908 50%
eggheadcafe.com 7,828 47%
ubergizmo.com 7,807 73%
ez-tracks.com 7,779 62%
popcrunch.com 7,728 63%
ghacks.net 7,695 78%
healthcentral.com 7,660 59%
5min.com 7,652 62%
famouswhy.com 7,619 63%
fanpix.net 7,445 64%
ilike.com 7,401 62%
torrentreactor.net 7,252 29%
bellaonline.com 7,171 69%
hotel-rates.com 7,124 67%

From Danny Sullivan’s article Number Crunchers: Who Lost In Google’s “Farmer” Algorithm Change?

How Important is Lead Quality?

How important is lead quality when I purchase leads? Well it is very important but the real question is how much are you willing to pay for lead quality?

There are essentially five lead characteristics that a company buying leads needs to consider. These characteristics have a different value depending on the type of company purchasing the leads.

  • Quality of the lead – is it a real buyer, is it targeted to what you sell?
  • Quantity of leads – how many leads per day
  • Cost per lead – cost per lead or group of leads or cost for specific lead requirements
  • Exclusivity – are the leads exclusive or sent out to 3-4 other companies.
  • ROI of leads – the cost of all leads purchased divided by revenue from the leads closed

One additional parameter in picking a good lead source is the companies service for example; return policy, background info on the lead origin, real human customer service etc.

There are many types of companies buying leads and therefore different types of lead companies catering to them. We can simplify most lead buyers into two categories, big companies and small companies. Here are some of the characteristics of these companies.

Small companies – could be a 1-10 person shop. They have a limited budget and lack sales resources. Small companies are very concerned about quality of the lead. They can not buy that many and often do not purchase enough leads to truly average enough to calculate their ROI. They usually want high quality leads sometimes exclusive leads and will pay more for them since it is more efficient for them to call fewer leads to close a deal.

Large company – usually have 10 – 100’s of sales people eager to make calls on leads. Have the financial resources to buy a lot of leads and negotiate group lead costs. Understand law of averages to calculate ROI. Can afford extra expenses on testing new leads. Large companies want a lot of leads to feed their sales machine. They will relax quality standards over having their sales people sitting around twiddling there thumbs. But they expect to pay less for leads since they are buying more leads that have a lower quality. In the end the leads have to pass their ROI standards to continue doing business.

Here are some guidelines if you are a small company looking to buy leads:

  • Understand the lead return policies
  • Ask where the leads are coming from, call center, email, white papers, web sites. If possible ask for examples.
  • Ask how the leads are qualified? Do the call them, if they call them do the ask qualifying questions like budget and project time line? Are they scrubbed with other data to make sure the address and phone number and name match?
  • Is there a minimum, number of leads that need to be purchased, is there a monthly or annual fee above and beyond the lead costs?

The bottom line is you will have to jump in and try the leads out. Keep a log of the calls you make for each lead. You can use this log if there are problems with the leads. Most lead companies will work something out and a good lead company will want to know if they are selling bad leads. Not closing a lead could also be the sales persons fault. A lead not closing due to competition, price etc. compared to never contacting the prospect are two different issues. Try enough leads to make sure you can get a good average at least 100 leads.

Landing Page Optimization Guidelines

Often clients ask how should they optimize their landing page(s). The landing page is where a prospects ends up after clicking on an ad. So you must first start with the ad and follow the users experience from the beginning to the Submit or Buy button. Most prospects will look at your landing page for about 7 seconds. So the page must build trust and be appealing enough for them to continue. Below are  items to review with your present campaign.

Consistent Message
The user starts with the ad, once clicked they come to the landing page. The message, color, images, should be the same on the ad as on the landing page. So if you have blue banner with a picture on it the landing page should have the same image and blue color on the page. This reinforces trust to the user and they know they are at the right place that they expected. The offer should be the same, do not bait and switch.

Build user understanding quickly
There are four main pieces of information a user is looking for.

  • Where am I –  meet the expectation set up by the ad.
  • What do you offer – clearly state what you offer in one sentence
  • Why do I care – tell the user what the advantage is of your offer don’t assume they know. Also use You and Your instead of I and We. Using You connects the user faster to their imagination of them using your product or service.
  • What do you want from me – You have to ask for the sale. Get, Buy, Sign up, Start today. Only ask for information you really need. You can get additional information later. People are skeptical about providing any unnecessary information. Be up front about any costs or fees.

Simple Layout
Studies show that when people read online they jump around. They often read the first and last sentence of a paragraph, not the middle; they often glance over to an item on the left or right.

  • Keep the text simple with plenty of white space so the user is focused on what is on the page and not distracted.
  • Use two columns one with the main body of text the other can be a thin call to action form, testimonials etc.
  • Use font color and size, and graphics to capture the user’s attention but not distract them.
  • Reinforce our call to action in multiple places on the page
  • Have a call to action in the upper right above the fold (what you see before scrolling) as well as your main pitch.
  • Build trust with Return and Privacy links on the bottom of the page
  • Be careful not to have too many links off the page. Many landing page have no navigation and pigeon hole the users into one path others wait until the user has clicked the first button to a series of forms once they are filling out forms there are no other links off that path.

Test and Test again
With each offer you would have a separate landing page this keeps a consistent message. However you will also need to test different ads and different landing page. Some pages would have different layouts others may only have one call to action word changed in the heading. Remember this is an experiment so only change one thing so you can figure out what change worked and what change did not. Track your clicks, acquisitions, time a person spent on a page etc.

Feel free to contact me if you want a free landing page consult. Go to www.OptimalLeadGen.com

7 Ways to Qualify Sales Leads

I am often asked how leads are qualified or have you thought of qualifying a lead this way etc. This blog post is about different ways to qualify a lead. There are many lead companies in the market and they all have different names for how the qualify a lead. I have made the names up below and in no way represent any particular companies lead qualification process.

This list is generally from the least to the most qualified lead. Note that as a lead becomes more qualified it cost more because it takes more leads to find the highly qualified lead and it takes more time to find it. This does not mean that the most qualified lead is the best for your company. To determine which is best you will need to test each type and do a careful ROI analysis with at least a sample of 100 leads. You must also take a close look at your sales process to make sure it is efficient but also has the correct follow up and closing processes in place. And of course make sure your product or service has enough markup to afford the purchase of sales leads. If it doesn’t then you have a bigger problem and may have to look at your product / service costs or sale price.

1) Phone lists – purchasing a list is the least expensive cost per lead. This can be very effective if you create the list with the right parameters (company or house hold size, geographic location, house or company purchase / start date etc.) however you will need to have an efficient process to harvest sales from the list since there will be thousands of them. A good list is checked by the seller of the list every 3 to 6 months; this is to insure the contact information is correct.

2) Web form leads – requests submitted online from a form. No verification is made however it can be assumed that the buyer is interested in the service which is a step above a cold call. Of course there are fraud and spam results that have to be weeded out.

3) Automatic electronic verification. This is used when a lead comes from a web or advertising source and is electronically verified for correct contact information. Additional information can also be appended to each lead as well.

4) Phone verified basic – this is when a call center calls to verify the basic information. For example is the contact information correct, did you ask for a quote?

5) Double phone verified – same as phone verified except all the leads are called back for one more question to verify accuracy. This is commonly done in call centers; sometimes this is done on random leads.

6) Phone verified advanced – this is when a call center calls to verify a lead information but also asked specific industry and product or service related questions. The call center then makes a decision if the lead is real and feasible or not.

7) Phone verified custom – this is the same as the advanced verification except specific questions are asked for a particular vendor. In this case questions are asked to make sure the lead will fit criteria for one service or product by one vendor. This could also include appointment setting.

Finally the above can be combined to screen leads as well.