I am by no means devaluing the importance of finding trusted lead generation partners: ones who provide leads and email opt-ins from consumers who have expressed an explicit interest in your products and services; partners who take pride in scrubbing and validating their data to the highest standards using a combination of in-house and third-party verification services; partners who take an active interest in the success of your programs, and who will work with you to continually fine-tune your campaign to ensure they are maximizing your ROI.
However, you can take all the precautions, check off each of the attributes above, and this can all be overshadowed by poor execution of the campaign launch process. The importance of getting your program live quickly, smoothly and pain-free is often overlooked. And far too often, this is discovered so late into the launching of a program, that changing course and moving the budget to a different partner is not an option. Instead, you get stuck with a disorganized partner, and you spend far too much time and money in getting the program live. By the time it's live, you are ready to end the relationship!
Here are some of the keys to a smooth lead generation program launch:
1. Pre-Campaign Kick Off Call - This doesn't only apply to lead gen, this applies to all campaigns. However, given the complexity of lead gen, especially when data is being passed, it's so important to get all the information accurately transferred upfront, and get all questions on the table and cleared - even the overlooked basics:
a. Exchange contact information for everyone involved (include third-party data house).
b. Review all program specs required.
c. Confirm the data being collected and the data transfer details.
d. Share consumer follow-up strategy and success metrics.
e. Agree to a regular schedule for reporting and campaign evaluation.
f. Set parameters for campaign optimization.
g. Confirm campaign set-up timeline.
2. Knowledgeable Sales Rep - Sales reps should have a strong grasp of the intricacies of how a successful lead generation campaign should be run from start to finish. They should:
a. Provide strategic creative advice based on the goals of the program.
b. Be able to look at the program from multiple points of view (provider, advertiser, consumer).
c. Understand of the various data transfer options available (http post/get, ftp, xml, etc.).
3. Strong Account Manager Support - Salespeople are hired to sell. And although they remain actively involved in a program throughout its duration, they travel a lot, and they're often out on meetings, so they just aren't always there when you need them. It is extremely important to have a strong and dedicated account manager working closely with you and your sales rep to ensure you get the attention and responsiveness you deserve. Good account managers are the guardians of your campaign success.
4. Top-Notch, Seasoned Operations Team - As good as the reps and the account managers can be, the actual building and execution of the campaign comes down to the operations team. This is often where most companies fall well short of acceptable. This is the group that takes all of your creative assets, targeting requirements, criteria restrictions, data transfer specs, reporting requirements and quickly and accurately pieces it all together to produce your campaign efficiently and correctly. I've heard too many war stories over the years about campaigns that took far too long to build or execute. A top-notch operations team, combined with proper technology, is the only cure for that problem.
Next time you are planning a buy for a lead generation campaign, be sure to pay attention to these four keys. Ask your sales rep if they hold kick-off calls with their clients. Ask them who supports their group. And ask them about how long it generally takes to get a program live. By paying attention to these factors, you can avoid spending too much time on the execution -- and not enough time on optimizing your campaign.