Tuesday, 6 November 2012 by Peter Bell

Content is King? No, Performance is the new King

Thats right, the concept of Performance Marketing may be as old as the hills, but only in the past year or so, has it become King elect. Paying by performance is now a staple on every advertisers marketing menu. Try dining out with a non-performance strategy and youll never make it to dessert course!

Performance to many in the search advertising world, means paying for clicks whereas in the display ad industry, means paying for impressions. Both give some level of reassurance that there is a performance element, but the money shot is - How many of these impressions/clicks turn into leads and sales?

Googles ad platform has come a long way in terms of making search a goal based advertising medium. A goal could be a lead, download, appointment or sale. Anonymous traffic generation was a gold rush going back a few years but in the modern targeting/re-targeting landscape coupled with the avalanche of consumer data on tap it is essential to optimise your campaign towards leads/actions and ultimately sales.

In online advertising, the unstoppable rise of RTB (real-time buying) illustrates a desire to get media to perform to a specific cost per action or acquisition. There is simply such a glut of online media inventory out there that it is now only worth what someone will pay for it. The online advertising ratecard just hit the shredder!

The so called King, Content has received alot of attention in the marketing press of late and rightly so. Having beautiful content on your site is not only engaging but can also win the hearts of your prospects and customers. But for it to be King, much more power must be leveraged to satisfy the demands of even an average commercially focused business enterprise.

Performance Marketing encapsulates all the elements that are great about marketing today - Great copy that sells; Flexible channels ; Compelling offer variants ; Discounted pricing models ; Ready to purchase consumers. Which is why, the crowning of Performance as King is likely to reign for a very long time... All rise...

Friday, 5 October 2012 by Peter Bell

11 Reasons why Lead Generation campaigns fail

Lead generation marketing is like a fast-moving train where you constantly need to upgrade the machinery and lay new track in order to get it to go from A to B as efficiently as possible.

To learn from lead generation and be a successful performance marketer, you need to understand why campaigns fail. You may be surprised to find that many of the factors are not under your control. Regardless, when marketing campaigns do fail it is still you (or the agency!) that carries the can.

Below are the main reasons why lead generation campaigns dont work, time after time:
  1. Poor lead sourcing - speaks for itself, as the mantra goes, rubbish in = rubbish out. Campaigns will struggle from the get-go if the leads are weak.
  2. Slow fulfilment/conversion - it is shocking how many advertisers overlook the conversion element of lead generation especially when the conversion occurs offline. Expecting great quality leads to convert regardless of speed of follow-up is lead generation suicide. Timing is everything, which is why leads always out-perform list data. Think of every day delayed is 10% lost.
  3. Poor targeting/lead criteria - buying homogeneous leads can work for a while, but when conversions dip you need to understand what type of people are converting. For example, targeting 20-40 year olds may sound on brand, but if the majority are under 30 you need to adjust targeting.
  4. Inefficient tracking by source - Its all too easy with lead generation to use large networks or publishers to blind buy leads. You need to know at least what channel you are buying (email, display, SMS?) and at best the name of the publisher in order to make informed marketing decisions.
  5. Bad use of marketing channels - i.e. cold email for charity donations is unlikely to give an attractive cost per acquisition that will win awards, but maybe generating a lead for a follow email and call, will.
  6. National/Global/Weather events - can happen at any time completely outside of your control, not one you can plan for, but can blow even the best marketing campaign off course!
  7. Weak offer/promotion - Offering a free iPad may sound cool, but when 95% of your marketing community are using the same incentive it becomes instantly in-effective. Instead, dream up unique incentives such as product discounts, unique experiences, give-aways which cant be replicated easily and capture consumers imagination
  8. Competitor actions - online marketing can be instantaneous which means that your smart ideas today is another marketers blue-print for tomorrows campaign. Be aware of the competition to achieve as much differentiation as possible
  9. Brand - the power of the brand is something often under-played in lead generation. Great brands are instantly recognised and their meaning communicated. Whereas newer brands dont mean a sausage to the average consumer until the message has been countless relayed over many years.
  10. Marketing materials - these have to look right and be functional for your intended audience. If youre not sure, call up your customers and ask them what they would like to see. Trying to read your audiences mind is never a good idea.
  11. Randomness - sometimes you just cant put your finger on it. Could be luck (good or bad). But if theres no apparent reason for failure then test again, as over the long-term, luck evens out.
Im sure there are a million smaller reasons why you cant get it right every time, like sending out emails with broken links is inviting disaster, but can happen to anyone.

They key thing is to learn from the more obvious pitfalls to save many a campaign from the marketing dust-bin.

Thursday, 9 August 2012 by Peter Bell

Why Lead Generation is NOT a marketing channel

Performance Lead Marketing
In recent years, Lead Generation has deservedly blossomed into one of the fastest growing areas of marketing today (42% of sales coming from online leads according to Econsultancy). Its even spawned a new more popular big brother of late - Performance Marketing. Performance covers a much larger area of marketing, encompassing non-lead activity such as pure customer acquisition (Cost Per Acquisition/Cost Per Sale) campaigns or revenue share based activity.

Many good folks (including myself) within the industry have fought hard to get lead generation recognised and established as a standalone marketing channel in the UK. To their credit in 2011, the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) finally apportioned 1% of all online advertising spend to online lead generation up from zero previously - meaning £51m ad spend was defined as online lead gen last year. Whilst 9 out of 10 cats would say this is a tenth of the reality, its a good start.

In 2012, with Lead Generation and Performance firmly on the marketing map and on every marketers to do list, now is the time to shift the focus away from talking about lead generation as a channel. Lead Generation touches all areas of direct marketing including email, banner (display), search engine marketing, mobile advertising, SMS, social media (virtual currency), tele-marketing, print advertising, co-registration (or host and post if you are in the US). These are the established marketing channels that are used for lead generation marketing. Lead Generation itself is not a marketing channel, it is a marketing purpose. To my mind, there are only three possible purposes for marketing and advertising in general:
  1. To generate leads/prospects
  2. To acquire customers (i.e. minus the lead process)
  3. To generate awareness/branding (hopefully, creating leads/customers later on)
Now, is the time to move the debate on to crediting lead generation more as a marketing objective rather than a channel in its own right. This will help senior marketers create much more lead focused marketing strategies which can then be distilled into tactics by the marketing teams or performance agency to pick the most appropriate channels (mentioned earlier) to meet those high level objectives.

By 2013, more and more CMOs and Marketing Directors will be discussing Lead Generation and Performance Marketing strategy at board level (if not already).

Wednesday, 11 July 2012 by Peter Bell

Don't Marry your Leads - Get Engaged First!

Its so tempting isnt it - youve generated the perfectly crafted lead and now you want immediate conversion to customer. But hold up - youve hardly met and already youre popping the question.

Asking someone to marry you on the first date not only sounds desperate but is likely to attract the wrong sort of response such as Dont speak to me ever again & Where did you get my details from Of course there will be the odd few that say yes straight away but are you really sure you want someone like this?

Yet in lead generation marketing we try to marry people on the first date all the time. Generate - Convert, Generate - Convert, doh... 

The key missing ingredient essential to all long-lasting relationships is - Engagement.

Yes it sounds boring and is a little bit fuzzy. You might even worry youll scare the lead off before you get the chance to convert. However a compelling engagement strategy neednt slow down conversion. It could be something simple, such as a welcome email sent before the prospect is telephoned. The welcome email is all about adding credibility, useful content and support to the sales pitch.

Adopting a more complete engagement strategy over a longer period can also mean offering prospects the opportunity to download something for free, watch a video or play a game, all relevant to the end goal of getting the person to buy your product. Not forgetting, that in b2c marketing you must apply engagement techniques at low cost and high scale in order to meet both volume and CPA targets.

So resist the temptation of taking things too fast and spoil what could be many more beautiful customer relationships in 2012.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012 by Peter Bell

PPC Advertising is Dead and Google Knows It

Google PPC is dead

Hold on, just a cotton picking minute, you cry - youre talking about the central nervous system of all online marketing, youre way out of line. But hear me out (I am not a Google basher - note to Google bots, please spider the word Not). I dare you to dispute my top ten reasons:

  1. You are NOT what you click
  2. Under 100 keywords drive 95% of search traffic (outside of e-commerce)
  3. PPC based search agencies struggling to add value and diversifying
  4. Googles infamous long tail of niche terms/hidden keywords with ROI busting returns has been docked by Googles broader matching software.
  5. Auction based pricing model dominated by intermediary aggregators who squeeze out end user advertisers by selling on the cheaper click traffic as higher priced leads
  6. Google diversifying into display and affiliate marketing. We now see comparison site ads and email signup ads mixed in with search results
  7. Advertisers endlessly question the true ROI of search ads, but for many years have felt there has been no credible alternative
  8. Advertisers demand leads and customers rather than just anonymous click traffic
  9. Performance Marketing is becoming a by-word for all marketing. Who would choose non-performance in this brave new marketing world where low-risk and ROI are lord and master?
  10. Social media is rapidly becoming the filter through which people view the internet rather than tapping words into search engine boxes.
Ive no doubt Google knows all of this which is why our search world will change beyond all recognition over the next 24 months. It will be Google search, but just not as we know it!