Facebook 'Legitimizes' Something Already Legitimate: Lead Generation

  • by , Op-Ed Contributor, July 22, 2015
Facebook recently announced that they are testing lead-generation-based mobile ads with selected brands globally. If these ads prove to be valuable for both Facebook and its advertisers, then they will become a part of the Facebook Advertising arsenal.

The industry pundits are saying that these ads will likely be popular with email marketers, financial brands, automakers, insurance companies and real estate players.

The new ads give marketers a tool that lets consumers opt-in for things like newsletters or other brand communication. They also have an auto fill function for completing forms – credit card apps, price quote follow ups, etc. with a simple click.

All this simplicity becomes possible when users allow Facebook to access information directly from their profiles to power the automation.

Facebook users stay put and don’t need to click away to fill out forms. The idea is that the automation and simplicity will drastically boost conversion rates on these new ads, which will result in higher cost per click, cost per lead and cost per thousand – or whatever method they use to measure and price the ads.



It’s no wonder Facebook is jumping into the Opt-In game with such bravado. According to the eConsultancy’s “Email Marketing Industry Census 2014,” revenue from email increased proportionately by 28% in one year.

On average, companies assign 23% of their total sales to the email-marketing channel, compared to 18% from the previous year." The net here is that email and opt-in ads work and fit in very nicely with this niche.

Are Lead Generation Ads Really New?

Expert commentators are heralding this test and making it out to be something new. According to Adweek, “…it will be interesting to see how enthusiastic email marketers will be. Buying ads to produce sign-ups isn't necessarily a common practice in that world.”

Let’s just get this straight, lead generation ads have been around for a while, they are a common practice and enthusiastic marketers have been using these to convert consumers via opt-in for quite some time. While leads were not always driven by digital and mobile ads, they have served as a tool for solidifying customer loyalty.

One of the earliest efforts to win the hearts, minds and wallets of customers was the S&H Green Stamp program, originating in 1896. To encourage loyalty, consumers received tiny stamps when they made purchases from participating merchants, glued them onto pages of booklets and redeemed them for products.

Programs like these have morphed (big time) and become a key source for lead generation and ongoing brand loyalty.  Think airline rewards programs – you sign up and they collect a boatload of information about you. This information is then used to help inform marketing decisions and ultimately convert you from a browser to a buyer.

Let’s look at another great example. Direct marketing champion, Publishers Clearing House (PCH), has been at the forefront of lead generation – in offline and online worlds. PCH’s efforts have created a treasure trove of data used to market more intelligently to their consumers and for the advertisers that buy into their platform.

Omni-channel marketing platforms are also bringing lead generation and opt-in advertising back into focus. Marketo and HubSpot for example, have been big drivers for a long time in this space. Both provide thousands of businesses with marketing automation tools and lead generation is a big part of both company’s suite of products.

It’s great that Facebook is now getting into the game, but what we need to remember is that Facebook isn’t the first to use a technology platform and digital advertising as a means for lead generation and customer loyalty. These concepts have been in play for a long time. Further legitimizing lead generation however, will only highlight the power behind email marketing and the value and importance of collecting data via opt-ins. Kudos Facebook… now let’s continue generating those leads.

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