Thursday, April 2, 2009

Performance Insider: Secrets Of Optimizing Lead Quality

Secrets Of Optimizing Lead Quality

Given the current economic climate, it's no surprise the marketing world is abuzz with talk of maximizing results for every campaign. For lead generation marketers, that means an even stronger focus on delivering quality leads. The secret lies in the art of optimization.

 The first and perhaps easiest area to concentrate your optimization efforts is creative, since even small changes to your creative can have a huge impact on a lead generation campaign's performance, both in terms of quality and volume.

Don't be satisfied with bold graphics and short, benefit-laden headlines and copy alone. Instead, it's vital that you continually test headlines, copy and graphics to determine the optimal treatment for your specific offer. To give a quick example of the impact small creative changes can have, we recently drove a 25% increase in daily selects and 46% increase in conversion rate for a diabetic supply offer simply by including a product shot and making the text bigger so it was easier for the advertiser's older target audience to read.

When considering creative optimization, it's also essential to remember that performance-based lead gen is unique because of the importance of gaining the consumer's explicit permission to be contacted by you. To that end, you should always provide full disclosure of the terms of the offer, along with bold text that confirms the consumer's interest and explains exactly what he/she should expect next, such as a telephone call within 24 hours or a bill following a free trial period.

Data validation has a major impact on lead quality as well. Don't just settle for having valid contact information, though; you should also use custom validation that is specific to your business needs. For example, if you require a certain loan-to-property value percentage for a mortgage offer, then create the logic to calculate that percentage upon submission and reject the lead if it doesn't comply.

In addition, utilize dynamic fields -- where additional questions dynamically appear when a consumer answers a question -- to further qualify the lead. Lastly, automatically scrub leads who incorrectly answer key qualifying questions in your offer form. This last step not only increases the quality of the leads per se, it also saves you the time and expense of following up with consumers who aren't appropriate for your offer in the first place.

We all learned about sharing from our parents, and it's still a particularly relevant lesson when looking to optimize your traffic sources. Advertisers should share invalid lead files with reason codes with publishers, and publishers should use this data to optimize campaigns by eliminating poor traffic sources, refining targeting, and/or revising the creative. Likewise, advertisers should share converted lead files with publishers if permitted by advertiser privacy policies.

Establishing a feedback loop of converted leads is as important as the bad leads. Sophisticated publishers will incorporate your conversion data into a predictive targeting model that is continuously adjusted according to your offer's performance on the back end. (For additional information, see the second installment of the IAB Lead Generation Committee's Lead Quality Best Practices -- -- which focuses on data sharing between advertisers and publishers in order to optimize campaigns and improve lead quality.)

Of course, these steps alone won't solve all optimization issues, but they are an excellent place to start. And given the daily headlines about the economy, right now is the perfect time.

Gayle Guzzardo is senior vice president, product management, at Q Interactive and the chair of the Lead Generation Committee of the Interactive Advertising Bureau. Reach her at

Performance Insider for Thursday, April 2, 2009:

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