Wednesday, 30 May 2012 by Peter Bell

Performance Agency v's Performance Network

The Royal Couple

In the booming Online Lead Generation sector, the once distinct roles of the Performance Marketing Agency and the Affiliate Marketing Network are merging.

Wind back a few years and you could see clear daylight between the two separate disciplines. Take first the role of The Marketing Agency, being primarily focused on:

  • Campaign creation & brand proposition
  • Answering the client brief
  • Media Planning & Buying specialist 
  • Strictly client-side

Contrast this with The Affiliate Network:

  • Delivery according to the media plan
  • Management of publishers
  • Affiliate marketing platform specialist

Fast forward to today and we see marketing agencies running private affiliate networks and conversely affiliate networks doing traditional agency work such as planning and buying performance media.

Who is is treading on whose toes? And who is the most capable of giving the best service and results?

There is no single answer, but clearly as the performance marketing industry matures it is transitioning from many siloed specialist operators towards a broader, easier to understand proposition. This is why both agency and network players now seek to offer advertisers a one-stop shop for all lead generation and performance marketing services.

Networks and agencies have much to learn from one another and it can only be a good thing if working closer together and adopting good practice means more cohesion and simplicity on offer to the modern day performance marketer. However, a clear and present danger of being both agency and a network is where conflicts of interest arise in media buying between owned and bought media.

Whichever model wins out (or more likely a new combination of the two), it has never been more important to demonstrate media independence and use integratable (is this a word?) platforms with total transparency to ensure advertisers receive the perfect marriage of both agency and network.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012 by Peter Bell

Google Lead Generation

Check it out... Try Googling myvouchercodes when logged into Google and see what you get. I got this search result with an email sign-up box:

On clicking get offers you get this Google email sign-up thank you message:

So no click, no traffic just email leads. Over and above Googles recent addition of display advertising for financial product comparisons, this is now an example of pure lead generation advertising from Google.

Checking out Google Adwords, this ad extension is not currently available in the interface but its only a matter of time.

Its clear that Google no longer see themselves as a website traffic provider using cost per click (CPC) but are becoming more orientated around cost per lead (CPL) and cost per action (CPA) campaigns. The current range of performance based advertising options on Google include:

  • Display advertising- if youre a Google owned comparison site!
  • Cost per call - using Googles less than perfect telephone number tracking solution
  • Email sign-ups

No doubt a sign of things to come if they can make it work and scale it without cannibalising the search business.

A Google click or a Google lead - I know which Id prefer.

How long before Facebook begin offering similar Performance Marketing options?

Thursday, 26 April 2012 by Peter Bell

Lead Generation Marketing: Time for ROI to kill off CPA

When you think about it, CPA is possibly the most punishing metric created for lead generation marketing. The raison detre of lead generation is the unique process of collecting someones contact details, nurturing them with great content and so convert over time.

The offline direct marketing world has long favoured ROI for direct mail campaigns because of the time it takes to get back results and the associated costs that are tied up in the campaign.

Whereas in the whizz-bang world of online, some bright spark managed to make CPA the official yardstick of campaign success. This creates an atmosphere of instant gratification which lumbers a massive burden on lead generation to perform instantly or die. Ultimately instant performance is down to where the consumer actually is in the buying cycle and how engaged they are with your brand. Using CPA metrics only tends to steer you away from the long tail of lead generation where careful lead nurturing extracts ever more conversions out of the same batch of leads.

ROI based lead generation and performance marketing allows longer-term planning and more investment in smarter ways to convert customers. It has never been cheaper to automate effective marketing communications to potential customers to ever more gently coax them down the marketing funnel.

So the next time someone gives you the CPA of a lead generation campaign, try asking back what is the end ROI and see what happens... nothing well...

The more we start to adopt ROI as the key metric in the lead generation industry, the more companies will invest long term in the channel to create longer lasting benefits we all need more of.

Monday, 26 March 2012 by Peter Bell

Lead Nurturing - Be the Sheep Dog

I last blogged about lead nurturing back in March 2011. One year on and great strides have been made in automated marketing technology which means nurture should now be - second nature.

However, it is not nearly exploited as much as it could be. With an increasingly time and money poor customer, it has never been more vital to engage prospects using a lead nurture marketing process. Nurturing through engagement go hand-in-hand unlocking sales that would have otherwise been lost. Techniques essential to nurturing include:

  • Communication - must be entertaining using appropriate style and tone for your audience
  • Free stuff - offer free information, games, video, gifts or vouchers 
  • Interaction - allow consumers to interact with your brand through social media channels
  • Personalisation - skilfully use personal details to craft more relevant sticky content

Once you have this mindset you also need to consider the best communication channel to employ. For instance, SMS is great for grabbing attention when you consider 95% of texts get read, but if your message is not considered important enough you risk alienating prospective customers. There is no hard and fast rule, for it could be highly effective to use SMS further down the nurturing process if you have failed to engage the consumer by email or phone but have a great marketing proposition to deliver. Depending on the value of the sale, a direct mail piece could be sent to those who have not yet responded but fit the perfect profile of your customer base.

So rule everything in when trying to engage Mr Consumer as you nurture him down the natural ravines of the purchasing funnel. Picture how a shepherd and his dog herd sheep into the pen using guile, patience and skill to ensure all are guided safely and happily to their destination.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012 by Peter Bell

Can you handle the Pressure of Performance Marketing?

It is said, You are only as good as yesterdays leads. 

Performance Marketing must be one of the most scrutinised areas of modern marketing. One day you are weeding out lead fraud and validation issues and others you are constantly tinkering with optimisation options to extract more conversions from the same budget. Every day could be good, bad or indifferent. This is a daily grind or a daily pleasure, depending how well you are doing!

For Performance Marketing Executives to manage their time effectively and be successful, it is vital to streamline and automate as many lead marketing tasks as possible:
  • Set auto volume caps and quality thresholds by publisher and channel to optimise performance
  • Loop back real-time sales information rather than chase people for spreadsheets that have to be reformatted anyway
  • Experiment with staggered trigger welcome email frequency rather than blasting manually at unplanned times
  • Use APIs to take real-time feeds into the database to save on manual uploads and internal IT resource
  • Create a repository of email/banner/co-reg creatives that be easily modified and reskined for different campaigns
  • Use tracking technology that requires as little manual intervention as possible

With these elements taking care of themselves it will free up more time where the real world experience and gut-feel of a true performance marketer can make the biggest impact i.e. the fun stuff!