In Education

Transparency is a word that is getting a great deal of attention these days, not only within lead gen but within the business world in general.  It was a lack of transparency into the riskiness of loan assets that resulted in the economic collapse that our economy has been emerging from for the last few years. When transparency exists in a business deal both parties are able to make informed decisions as to whether the deal achieves their objectives.

Typically when transparency is discussed in lead generation it refers to buyers having greater insight into how and where a lead is generated.  With this information buyers generally have a greater understanding on how the lead will perform.  Additionally, they can track leads by source and allocate money only to the sources that are performing best for them.  An element of transparency, however, that is not often discussed is the importance of lead buyers providing feedback to the publisher generating the lead the outcome of the lead’s disposition.

As lead gen matures and becomes more of an established form of advertising it will need to adapt aspects of traditional advertising where information is shared more freely between a company and its advertising partner (i.e. its ad agency).

Traditional advertising has its roots back to the turn of the century when companies first started hiring outside agencies to assist them in developing and creating ad campaigns.  Advertising agencies, however, didn’t really kick into high gear until the early 1960’s and the adoption of television by the American public.  Since then, advertising agencies have become integral partners of companies in helping them with their marketing efforts.

Prior to entering the lead gen business, I worked for the consumer packaged goods (CPG) company Clorox.  As with most CPG companies, the relationship between Clorox and its ad agency was extremely close.  In the CPG world the advertising agency is effectively an extension of a company’s internal marketing department.

Clorox uses the ad agency DDB West, a division of the advertising conglomerate Omnicom Group.  Just like Clorox employees, DDB staff working on Clorox accounts received badges to enter and exit the Clorox building at will.  DDB individuals participated in a majority of the product planning meetings with Clorox marketing managers in discussing and formulating each brand’s advertising objectives.  Clorox further freely shared its sales results with DDB so that they could evaluate the success of various advertising creative and methods (print, TV, radio, online, etc.) and make important recommendations based on what tactics were producing the greatest ROI.

The lead gen industry is still relatively new and it understandably has some catching up to match the practices that are utilized by traditional brand marketing companies.  As is common with new industries, there is still a fair amount of consolidation occurring within the sector.  As leading players solidify and the overall industry becomes more sophisticated, it will become increasingly important for lead buyers (i.e. advertisers) to develop a similar level of trust with the companies they receive leads from.

Arguably companies that will be most successful in utilizing lead gen will be the companies that freely share the results of their lead gen campaigns with their lead gen partners (similar to how the brand/product companies do with their advertising partners).  When this occurs lead gen companies will be able to tailor campaigns to get the best results for their clients.

In today’s current model lead gen works in a “one-size-fits-all” mentality where leads have basically become commoditized.  With greater transparency and the sharing of information, lead gen can follow the route of traditional marketing.  In this scenario the company works with its advertising partner to best communicate its products unique positioning and how to effectively reach their targeted consumer with this message.  By sharing proprietary information, a company in effect enables its advertising agency to more effectively do its job.

Lead gen buyers need to do their due diligence and find partners who they can trust with sharing proprietary information.  Once this trust has been established and information is shared, the partner can then tailor campaigns to generate leads that better drive conversions.  When this occurs, the lead gen business will not only have matured, but the results are likely to be more effective and more profitable for all parties involved.

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