Listen, I sell leads, so I’m not saying stop buying leads altogether. Buying leads typically allows advertisers cost advantages and the ability to scale up quickly. However, if you are a lead buyer, and have not invested resources to generate leads internally there are several reasons that you should seriously consider building this channel.
One huge reason is having the freedom to drive inbound calls to your sales floor. Call-ins usually represent the low hanging fruit of the buyer base and are typically not a component of leads purchased from a third party. Obviously, there is a 100% contact ratio on call-ins (as long as someone answers the phone). Beyond that the mind set of someone calling in is better because that person is reaching out to you. Therefore, the close ratio should be significantly higher on these calls and an added bonus to the online leads you are generating. Here are 3 ways to drive inbounds as part of your lead generation campaigns:
- Offer an incentive to call in on the confirmation page or “thank you page” for calling in. This can be as simple as stating, on the page immediately following the submittal of the lead information, “Thank you, a represented will contact you within 48 hours. Or, to obtain your quote immediately please call (800) 555-5555.” We once ran a campaign for satellite television where this strategy caused 10% of the leads to call in after they had submitted the lead. These call-ins closed at around 50% and that doubled the performance of the campaign as a whole.
- Put the phone number in a shadow box upon the exit of the landing page. If worded correctly the exit shadow box can draw on a powerful principal of influence that social psychologist Robert Cialdini calls “rejection then retreat”. Simply stated when the consumer chooses to the leave the page he/she is rejecting our request to complete the lead form. When we then ask the consumer to please call us instead we are retreating to a lesser request. There is an ingrained societal obligation to comply with the second request. Or maybe some people just want to call instead – I don’t really know. I do know this though: doing this will drive inbound calls and help you monetize traffic that was falling off the page anyway.
Caveat: Facebook, some display publishers, and most paid search engines do not allow exit pops off the landing page. For those media types simply build a landing page with the phone number displayed at the top. You will most likely see conversions into leads stay the same or go up. Conversely, many affiliates won’t want you to promote a phone number on the landing page for fear they will miss out on conversions (which is usually not the case). The exit shadow box is the perfect solution for these affiliates.
- Put the phone number in the ad. In testing this tactic with several different offers, we have found that the click through rates on ads do not go down when you include the phone number, and there can be a significant number of calls generated. One way to interpret this is that the people calling in from only seeing the ad are ones that are not comfortable clicking for whatever reason. By giving these people the option to call you are tapping into a section of the market that you would not have otherwise reached. Also, out of all of your marketing creative, your ads are going to be in front of the most eyeballs. So, if done well, this can be very powerful. We have seen campaigns drive as many calls as leads from this method without producing a drop off in online leads.
Caveat: If you are running email traffic drive calls to IVR (automated answering service) that allows an option for people to opt-out, as you do not want to bog down the sales floor with people calling to unsubscribe.
All that said, there are costs associated with building out an internal lead generation channel and optimizing it until it is profitable. If you are not set up to generate leads internally because of technical and/or media buying resources, but still want to take advantage of the pros associated with generating your own leads, maybe an online direct response agency is for you. In part 2 of this article, I will discuss why more expensive can be better, and how to most effectively use your brand in generating leads. Buying leads can produce big advantages in cost and the ability to scale, but there are unique benefits that advertisers can only reap by building their own campaigns.