Commentary

Marketers Should Avoid 'Dirty Data'

Traditionally when a company requires leads for a marketing campaign, it will go to a big data provider that has an established database of typically 10-12 million contacts and request however many leads it wants. The data provider will then apply the company's specialist filters to its entire database--for example, women living in Manhattan over the age of 25--and deliver all the leads that fit the filter criteria.

However the problem with this data collection method is that there is no telling how long the data has been on the database. In the time a person's contact details have been sitting there, that person could have moved house, changed their telephone number, even changed their name, and once the company goes to contact that lead it is useless. So called "dirty data" not only wastes contact center agents' time, it also wastes a marketer's budget--and optimizing budgets is crucial in the current market conditions.

Why targeting leads is the key

Even when the leads obtained from massive databases work, there is no guarantee that the person you are contacting will have any interest in your product. The lead may fit the filter categories by age, location and broad interests, but still select people who have no inclination towards your product. Ideally leads need to not only fit the target demographics of a company, but also have shown a genuine interest in the product or service provided.

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Online Lead Generation targets interested consumers

Instead of delving into a huge database of information, Online Lead Generation (OLG) collects leads to a company's specific requirements. So instead of data sitting in a provider's database waiting to be used, Online Lead Generation will actually collect new data for every campaign and companies using the service can be sure that the leads they acquire will be brand new, unique and specific to them.

Online Lead Generation allows a company to set parameters for collection of the data, such as men over the age of 30 living in Washington, but the information is even more refined. Consumers will not only fill out information related to their demographics, they will also register their interest in a specific product or service. Therefore the leads delivered to the company are all directly within the company's target market and have an interest in the product, which dramatically increases conversion rates.

Data provided by Online Lead Generation is also double opted-in, which means the consumer has already agreed to be contacted by a preferred method. Online Lead Generation also has rigorous data cleansing processes in place which fully check the data and ensure the contact information is correct and usable. The consumer opt-in element of OLG makes the marketing method attractive to consumers as well as marketers, because consumers will not be receiving unwanted sales calls from a product or service provider they have no interest in. From a marketer's perspective contact center and sales staff are not wasting time calling unreceptive consumers--the leads have all registered an interest which improves conversion rates and the bottom line.

Stringent data cleansing processes increase conversion

Although OLG collects unique and fresh leads specific to the company that requests them, some leads will inevitably slip through the net that are not completely relevant. Online Lead Generation has strict data cleansing processes in place that filter all of the leads again after they have been collected and take out all of the irrelevant ones. So if a 45 year-old man has registered an interest in a product, but the criteria was men under 25, OLG will remove that lead in favor of one that fits the collection criteria.

Companies using Online Lead Generation can also opt to have leads sent directly to their CRM system or contact centre for immediate follow-up, which also increases the value of the data. Rapid response times are essential to conversion because data decays over time--if a consumer registers interest in a product and you don't follow up with them for the next four weeks, chances are they will have forgotten they registered and will either have bought the product already or lost interest. If you contact them within the next few days however, the lead will still be "hot," the consumer will still be interested and it is more likely to result in a conversion.

Performance based methods allow complete control over budgets

It can be difficult to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of traditional data collection from large data houses, as clients will usually pay for a bundle of leads, say 10 or 20 thousand, regardless of their quality or conversion rate. However with Online Lead Generation clients can opt to pay on a cost-per-lead basis for new and unique leads--and if they have already obtained the lead from another source, they can reject that lead in favor of a new one. This flexibility means that OLG is very cost-effective as marketing managers are not paying for any 'dead' leads-- they only pay for the leads that they use. Because of the higher quality of the data provided, there is also less of a waste margin, so companies can ask for less leads initially. They may get the same number of conversions from 5,000 leads as they would from a 10,000 lead bundle from a larger 'blind' database.

Data quality has the ability to save marketers a considerable amount of money and is a completely transparent process--it is easy to see which leads have converted and which haven't. The cost-per-lead pricing system and extreme data cleansing also means that marketers are getting excellent value for money. The highly measurable nature of an Online Lead Generation campaign and its ability to suit almost any budget is what makes it attractive and it is easy to see how it will fit into a larger, complete marketing campaign.

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