Does Advertising Spend Lead to More Effective Lead Generation?
Remember when marketing a business was easy? Oh sure, there were still people who complained about it, but by and large, the methods were similar, and success was more a result of your ability to close deals than it was upon newer, innovative marketing strategies. Most businesses had their marketing plan and budget done and spent by the end of January, with the Phone Book, outdoor signs, and vehicle signage being the most prevalent forms of advertising. These forms of advertising were so ingrained, such a force of habit, that they seemed safe. In a world yet to be dominated by mobile devices and the internet, even these expenditures passed pretty well as marketing a business. The aim was brand and name recognition, as well as offering an easy way for a prospect to contact you once they needed your service. Chances are, when someone needed a tow, or a new transmission, they knew the names of a couple of local businesses and may have sought the advice of some friends or co-workers who may have used the business. Once the prospect had decided who they were going to use, they just needed to find out how to reach the business, either by phone or in person. The world was a simpler place when the phone book had an answer for almost every question that a consumer may have. Those businesses that thought the phone book or local publications may have been an unnecessary expense probably weren’t troubled by many other decisions of where or how to spend their profits, as they undoubtedly dwindled.
Of course, there have always been more high end, or boutique services available to promote a business. Those remain largely unchanged, as many business owners love seeing themselves on TV, or hearing themselves on the radio. For all the different options that were available to market a business, those options were alike in what they didn’t do: They did not generate new leads or clients, nor seek to identify a buying cycle or trends. Businesses wanted to make sure that when a need arose, prospects knew who to call to get that need met. This worked very well for a long time, right? I guess. How could a business find out which of their marketing channels was working best? Is there a way to know if there is a higher ROI when advertising on a billboard, or on the radio? Which radio station generated the most phone calls? Did the same station generate the best, or most profitable phone calls? All of these things were a bit too much for the average business owner. Understandably, they wanted to run their business, and not worry about where new customers were coming from, why, or how.
And then, all at once, things got squirrely. It’s hard to believe now, but the internet used to be a niche product. In 2000, 52% of american adults used the internet. At this point, marketing online probably seemed like a crapshoot at best. Nearly half of the country, mostly older people who tend to have more discretionary income, did not use the internet, and vowed that they never would. In 2010, 76% of Americans used the internet regularly, and today, it is over 90% (which seems a little low). A little historical perspective is sometimes necessary when considering a business owner’s current options in terms of internet marketing. The question is no longer “If,” but rather: “How.”
There are many ways to use the internet to advertise, and businesses have different goals when marketing online. Some businesses want to expand their presence, and extend their name recognition. Others want to highlight products, services, and deals. Still others want to provide a forum for their existing clients, or a platform with which to attract new clients. And yes, some business owners still want a place where they can see themselves smiling back through a computer screen. Successful businesses will use a combination of methods, strategies, and platforms to achieve some or all of these goals. Often these options are confusing and annoying to business owners, and they end up partnering with a successful marketing firm that specializes in the complex world of internet advertising.
While it is easy to get bogged down in the alphabet soup of online marketing jargon, SEO, PPC, SMM, or SEM campaigns can prove successful for a business that has a clear goal. After speaking with thousands of business owners over the years, we keep hearing the same sentiment: “I don’t care what you do, or how you do it, but I want leads. People interested in buying what I am selling.” It is unsurprising that a full 63% of respondents said that their top marketing challenge is generating traffic and leads. When it comes down to it, what does a marketing budget exist for if not to generate more business and revenue for the company? It seems very simple, yet many marketing firms continue to offer the same product lists that they always have. This is like going to the doctor for a migraine and walking out with an ankle brace. That brace may come in handy at some point, but have you ever tried to learn how to walk in a brace while battling a migraine? If you’ve been down this road, it may seem as if the doctor was not listening to your needs, and instead offered a solution that they have offered many others, many times. Their comfort has taken precedence over your needs.
The internet is no longer a risky proposition. Over 90% of Americans use it daily, and that number will continue to increase. An equally high percentage of businesses know what they want to achieve through their marketing initiatives. Why has it taken so long for agencies to bridge this gap? Clients have clearly stated what they want from their marketing effort: Leads and traffic. Why do agencies still send them home with a cookie-cutter marketing program designed to increase rankings? I’ll let you in on a secret: Using the internet for lead generation is a lot of hard work! It is much easier to promise a client that their ad or website will be seen when someone searches for a specific term while in a specific area. Even if this is possible, is it effective? Over half of search queries are 4 words or longer, making keyword research much more complex than even 5 years ago. All of the effort required to figure out when to show your ad disregards other inefficiencies, and flat out ignores the client’s stated goal: LEADS and TRAFFIC.
With our client’s and prospects goals being so clearly stated, we realized that the methods being used to generate leads online were dated, at best, and a matter of random chance, at worst. While SEO remains an important tool in your marketing strategies bag of tricks, plain and simply: It will not demonstrably and/or repeatably generate qualified leads to your business. Realizing that the medium had far outgrown the tactics that were once considered cutting edge, we knew that there was an opportunity to create a custom product, uniquely scaled to each client, which would acquire, analyze, and objectify relevant, existing data.
Without getting too far in the weeds, think of it like this: How does your computer know to show you an advertisement for a rental car 15 minutes after a discussion with your spouse about a vacation? It’s more magic than it is espionage, but even magicians use the same tricks and tools.
Having identified a need, and knowing that a solution existed, we knew that a new product needed to be developed. This product would need to analyze the billions of available data points to find correlations indicative of a likely buyer. Eventually, we developed a product and software to do just that. We are able to identify the behaviors and traits of an ideal prospect, and also calculate how far along they are in the shopping/buying process. Using this information, we can eliminate those who are not likely to buy, and focus our efforts (as well as our client’s marketing budget) to attract those highly engaged prospects. This is the rare form of online advertising that is both innocuous and helpful! Once we have identified a pool of interested prospects in a specific area, our marketing efforts are much more targeted and focused. This program essentially quiets the noise, allowing us to target prospects at the moment that they are actively searching for a product or service that you provide. If you had the option of trying to deliver a message at a rock concert or at a library, which would you choose? We have chosen the quiet arena of the library, and the results are not surprising. By only targeting those prospects who have been identified as eventual buyers (rather than shoppers), our client’s ad spend is never wasted on deaf ears. These prospects feel compelled to reach out for an estimate, or a quote, and know just how to do it.
Our clients are already benefiting from the research and investment that we made in this software, and, if past is prologue, by the time the larger firms figure out a cheaper way to mass-produce this lead generation technology, the market will have passed them by again. Feel free to reach out for more information about our proven Lead Generation software, or leave questions and comments if you know of other cutting edge marketing products.
Great article, Jamie.