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Sales Lead Cleansing and Activity
Taking the right sales steps can improve customer lifetime value
Posted Aug 5, 2011
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Everyone wants clean leads. It's the law, for one thing. It's cost-efficient, for another. It helps with the company's ROI. I don't need to go into detail talking about how important lead cleansing is: If you've read this far, you already know that it's a problem.
 
Co-reg simply means that the lead has signed up for more than one offer or agreed to have third-party offers sent to them. In that sense, these are "shared" leads that are getting emails from other people. There's nothing inherently wrong with this. It just increases the possibility of having some impure data collected along the way.

The reality is that almost all purchased leads end up being co-reg leads, since most lead generation services sell their leads to more than one retailer who then may sell them to several customers. How much have you been paying for "exclusive" email leads? How much have you been paying for clean ones?
 
There are some easy steps you can take to ensure clean leads:

  • Don't start out too big. Some companies begin with an overwhelming 10,000 leads per day, most of which will need to go into the gutter. Go slowly, and be patient.
  • Use all available technology. Technology can tell you at the front end, where it's the most important, whether or not an email address is valid.
  • Target the right places.
  • Know where your name is being used. Blind networks don't tell you where they're placing your offers. Some affiliate networks and reputable publications will tell you.

Once you're sure about your leads being clean, you can think about activity on those leads.
 
It may seem like common sense, but many companies fail to contact leads in a timely manner. (By "timely," I really mean "immediately.") In March of this year, the Harvard Business Review audited 2,241 U.S. companies, measuring how long each took to respond to a Web-generated test lead. Although 37 percent of these companies responded to their lead within an hour, and 16 percent responded within one to 24 hours, 24 percent took more than 24 hours, and 23 percent of the companies never responded at all. The average response time, among companies that responded within 30 days, was 42 hours.
 
In another Harvard study, companies that tried to contact potential customers within an hour of receiving a query were nearly seven times as likely to qualify the lead (defined as having a meaningful conversation with a key decision-maker) as those that tried to contact the customer even an hour later and more than 60 times as likely as companies that waited 24 hours or longer.
 
Those are sobering statistics. And they lead me to my next set of tips for lead activity:

  • Message them differently. A welcome email along with some information about your company should be the first thing in the lead's mailbox. Your message should thank them for doing what you asked of them, like signing up!
  • Message them quickly. The studies above show that very few companies are really doing this right: make sure that yours is one of them!
  • Hit them with activity. Don't just tell your story (yawn!): ask them what you can do for them. Make an offer for new subscribers. Make them want to do something. Also, ISPs like consumer interaction, which also increases inbox delivery. 

Ask for sources of the data from your broker or contacts. What is the Web site where they opted in to receive third-party offers? This includes asking for names of other marketers renting the file or data and how it is working for them. Ask if those clients would be willing to give verbal references.
 
Beware of any contact or broker that won't work with transparency and comply with the above. This is your first sign something shady is going on. There is a sea of companies out there fighting for your biz. Don't settle. Employ your own third-party email service provider or traffic-monitoring service to help with back-end analysis of your campaigns. All of your third-party acquisition efforts won't be able to hide from bottom-line metrics in print. If an email file isn't working (despite those ridiculously high open and click rates), metrics provide you with where it's not working, how it's not working, and why it's not working. With this information, a mailing can be stopped in its tracks before any true damage is done.
 
Read up on CAN-SPAM compliance. You don't have to be an expert, but there is no harm in learning the basics. The more you know, the less of a chance there is you will fall victim to any ill practices.
 
The more interactive you are, the better your chances of turning that lead into a customer. The more you tailor your emails to not only the customer's expressed preferences, but also to his or her location on the lead acquisition continuum, the better your chances of turning that lead into a customer.
 
Do it right the first time. You'll have far better customer lifetime value-and ROI.


Jacqueline Causa is an a digital strategist for eWayDirect.com, an electronic publishing ASP including list management and e-newsletter advertising placement.

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