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Lead Generation Industry Grows; Focuses on Customer-first Experiences

At LeadsCon this week, we heard from industry leaders to understand what’s driving lead generation today, challenges and opportunities. The common theme voiced by panels was to deliver customer-first experiences built on trust.

Lead Generation continues to grow. According to Nick Hedges, CEO at Velocify, their customer’s lead generation and purchasing activity grew 17% year-over-year. This growth spans across several verticals with mortgage taking the lead. Increased volume was also noticed in solar, education, and home services, while payday lead volume remained mostly flat.

The buyer’s journey has changed dramatically over the past five years with mobile as a key driver. Customers engage across various touchpoints which presents regulatory compliance and attribution challenges.

First, the lead generation industry is under close watch by the FTC. Consent and preferences must be collected and managed vigilantly.  And while most companies remain concerned about TCPA, the amount of auto dialing has increased in nearly every vertical. Companies are using services like LeadID and Possible Now to make sure the proper disclosures are collected and to protect themselves from litigation. Response time to a form request remains a critical component of a sale, and with the current regulatory environment, it becomes more important to understand the risks associated to making that call. Knowing the line type and ownership are vital. Whitepages Pro has solutions to provide confidence for TCPA compliance. Whitepages Pro’s Lead Verify API delivers line type and ownership in addition to other valuable data insights. The Phone Intelligence API can be used to gain line type and ownership information for inbound or outbound calls in real-time. A misstep in gathering consent and verifying a caller could result in a costly fine but more importantly lose trust with customers. The panel called on the industry to focus on building customer trust. If self-regulation is not a common goal for performance marketers, regulatory rules will be implemented to manage to the lowest common denominator.

The second challenge cited by the panel is attribution. Attribution in a non-linear buyer’s journey is conflated with pre- and post-shop engagement. According to Google, 60% of smartphone users stop in the middle of a conversation to look up something they just heard[1]. And 82% of smartphone users consult their phones while in a store deciding what to buy[2]. As customers move from a mobile app to an inbound call to asking their friends through social channels for input, it’s difficult to attribute the media that drove the desired outcomes. There are various methodologies and platforms in use but there isn’t a ‘silver bullet’ to solve for absolute attribution. This will continue to be an area for performance marketers to learn and share with each other.

An area of opportunity discussed was programmatic advertising. Mary Pocsik, Executive Director, Media at Geometry Global stated programmatic makes up 50% of the display marketplace and is expected to grow to 75% in the next few years. Prior to programmatic, ad buying was labor intensive and less analytic. It was difficult to execute campaigns across a fragmented landscape. Since programmatic leads with data, it enables a more thoughtful approach and is bridging the performance gap with search. There are some downsides with the convenience which include a lack of fine-grained targeting and potentially lead quality. However, it is believed that programmatic ads will be best for both consumers and marketers in the long term.

Overall, the panel was bullish on the direction of the lead generation industry. New technology tools like predictive analytics and new channels like wearable technology will provide new growth levers. And, if performance marketers focus on keeping the customer experience sacred and positive, the entire industry and their customers will benefit.

[1] Google Consumer Surveys, US, May 2015
[2] Consumers in the Micro-Moment, Google/Ipsos, US, March 2015

 

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