Breakout Session Notes -- Making Data Driven Decisions -- Lead Generation

Thanks to Matt Biskup of AdEngine for leading the roundtable and capturing the notes.

Following the Bridging the Data Divide discussion, the lead generation specialists pulled up chairs for what they knew was about to be a wide-ranging discussion.

Data and the concept of lead generation go hand-in-hand.

Lead generation is one of the most mission critical activities and is largely driven by search. The discussion started off ironically with an extension of panelist John Marshall’s (CTO of Market Motive) fresh statement from the podium just minutes before that cautioned data analysts and marketers not to focus too hard on improving conversion of the 2% of total site traffic that already converts, but to segment and survey and try to improve conversion of the 98% of traffic that does not convert.

This was a great starting topic as if forced a quick look at the strategically valuable "why" and "what" to analyze before the discussion of tactics of analyzing data began.

The subject of lead attribution was discussed, also an extension of the preceding panelist discussion of the proper consideration of and the technical attribution of non-search marketing that the company may also conducting.

A quick poll of the round table attendees showed a mix of in-house and agency specialists which supported both internal and external clients.

This is an important observation when discussing a subject of lead attribution because agencies may not be cognizant of the full spectrum of marketing taking place in a company. Search analysts may not be apprised of an online display campaign for example, let alone offline marketing efforts.

The consensus of table was that the complexity of tracking all the potential combinations of marketing exposures for a site visitor was daunting and making marketing ROI judgments from such tracking would be difficult at best.

Lead gen clients often do not close the loop of data by reporting to the search team which leads closed, so attribution of a lead form completion event was still the most common measure even using sophisticated tools. A truly effective ROI analysis would only be able to come from a review of traffic that ultimately converted into a sale after the lead conversion took place.

Another wrinkle to the online lead form completion and subsequent lead source attribution tracking issue was the use of telephone numbers on landing pages used by some clients. The quotient of potential clients that called into a call center in lieu of completing an online lead form were often not tracked or calculated by clients.

Sometimes, the lead generation experts even advised the use of trackable telephone numbers only to be not permitted to do this due to lack of client interest or budget limitations.

The participating lead generation experts discussed the issue of client-side lack of sophistication in the online arena.

Many clients are opting to take online search in-house only to be overwhelmed by the learning curve or hastily losing their marketing investment by making mistakes that a professional online marketer would not make. Often the result is a lowering of the value of online search in the eyes of the client altogether, even though the inefficiencies that they experienced were a result of their own execution and not a general market opportunity issue.

This issue of increasing technical and marketing sophistication is overlaid onto an erroneous client perspective that online marketing should be inexpensive and getting less expensive as volume goes up.

The result of these converging realities could be the complete loss of the independent lead generation function if the lead generation clients are not educated to appreciate the value of professional lead generation expertise versus simply conducting lead generation activities on their own sites with their own staffs.

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