From the Trenches

Buckets of Leads

Mike Sweeney | May 7, 2008

When I hear clients make a statement like “we rely exclusively on pay-per-click to drive leads into the business”, I cringe.   Don’t get me wrong – I am as big a proponent of using pay-per-click SEM for lead generation as anyone else, but it’s the word “exclusively” that frightens me.  The most successful lead generation marketers I know follow some simple rules:

  1. They start with identifying the metrics that matter for any lead generation campaign – initial value of a new customer, lifetime value of a new customer, average lead-to-sale conversion rate, target cost per lead, target cost per new customer, etc.
  2. They set up the appropriate tracking mechanisms (web analytics, CRM, lead scoring tools, etc.) to ensure that their lead generation campaigns are measurable.
  3. They diversify their lead generation sources as much as possible.
  4. They test, test, and test again.
  5. Based on testing, they refine each campaign tied to each source of lead generation.
  6. They test, test, and test again.
  7. Based on testing, they narrow down what works and what doesn’t and adjust their lead generation “portfolio” to reflect that.

The point I want to focus on here is diversification.  Lead generation marketing isn’t all that much different from managing a stock portfolio, or any type of investment portfolio.  You must diversify – some lead generation investments are sure things, some are high risk/high reward, others are low risk/low reward.  If you rely on one stock to carry your entire investment portfolio, you’re opening yourself up to some significant risk if something happens to that stock.  The same applies to lead generation – if you rely exclusively on one source of lead generation, and that source begins to tail off or even disappears, you open yourself up to significant risk.

Hence, the title of this post –  “Buckets of Leads”.  In an ideal world, you are managing multiple buckets of leads, each bringing a different volume, a different quality, and a different set of metrics.  Putting all your eggs in one basket may leave you open to an Enron-esque collapse somewhere along the way.


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