While many people think of a sales lead as a name and contact information, it turns out there’s a lot more that goes into, and comes out, of a valid lead. Not too long ago (and in many industries, this is still the case), a sales lead was simply a name, address and phone number on a list or an index card.
With the increased prevalence of online lead generation in multiple verticals, notably education, mortgage, insurance, home services, automotive, and more – sales leads have literally taken on a new form.
Is it a Real Lead?
When we talk about an online sales lead, we're really talking about a real and recent expression of consumer intent, and the level of determination a prospect exhibits. But before getting into questions of intent, the first thing you need to find out is if the lead is “real,” i.e. does the lead represent a real and recent expression of consumer intent. Because if it’s not a real lead, then it’s just data.
The advent of online forms to gather information about an in-market consumer has allowed for the development of tools to measure previously invisible attributes, such as how long a consumer spent on a lead form and what transpired once the form was submitted.
Once you determine that you are in possession of a real lead, and not just a collection of consumer data, minimize your risk by ensuring compliance with your company’s policies and regulatory risk.
Be sure that leads adhere to both marketing and legal compliance. TCPA settlements have been in the news since the laws were updated in October 2013. It seems like every week, another major corporation is hit with a lawsuit. It’s vital to stay ahead of the game and prevent legal compliance problems before they occur. And it’s just as important to stay within corporate guidelines. Was there misleading copy on the form? Did a lead provider or advertiser misrepresent your brand? The consumer experience must comply with both brand and government regulations.
Now it’s possible to use factual data, such as a lead’s submission timestamp and IP address, to determine the presence of fraud in a transaction. How long was that consumer on the lead form and what patterns were represented? A bot can fill out a form in a matter of seconds, and doesn’t represent the same patterns as a human – so a form that was filled out too quickly or with bot-like patterns often means that’s not a real consumer. On the other hand, a lead that shows real and great intent but occurred a month ago, may not be a real lead anymore.
Of the fields presented, how many did prospects interact with? How many did they change? There are correlations between pre-filled forms and measurement of intent. if there's a passive acceptance of what was presented, there's not as much intent overall as there is when the consumer actively made a choice from a drop-down box.
Once you know if a lead is real, and you’ve assessed the compliance risk for working the lead, the last question is what is the predicted value to your organization of this lead? The more precisely you can ascribe a predicted value, the better decisions you can make about what resources to expend on the lead – what fee you should pay, how much time you should spend, what resources to invest in the lead and what marketing tactics you should utilize to yield the best performance.
Assumption vs. Measurement
There are literally hundreds of metrics that can be viewed in real-time to gain a newly detailed picture of intent. Once you’ve run the numbers, you can determine the relative value of each of those leads remaining in the bucket and decide how you are going to interact with a prospect to maximize the yield for your organization.
Every lead can be assigned a predicted value, and based on that value, each lead is much easier to segment. How quickly do you want to reach out in your workflow, and in what way? You may choose to route to a call center where the prospect will interact with a human being. Other leads are best served with an email interaction.
Lead Your Business to New Heights
Different nurturing campaigns dramatically alter the outcome of your lead flow. But like a house built on a solid foundation, your lead must pass that initial test. When you know your leads are real, you can truly grow your business. Real consumers are still in the marketplace searching for goods and services. It’s the process that’s changed with the advent of digital marketing. As a smart marketer, your actions make the difference between intention and inattention.