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3 INTRODUCTION The act of buying leads is a fairly easy task. A few quick phone calls could easily result in hundreds of leads being delivered to you on a daily basis. However, are they going to be leads that convert and equally important are you ready to properly work the leads you will receive? Just these two basic questions can make the process of buying leads a much more challenging event than what most new lead buyers typically expect. The lead generation ecosystem has a plethora of services that can help propel your company to levels never before realized. It also can provide gigantic challenges that could bankrupt your company and send you away cursing its name. It is up to you to find the right guidance so that you can successfully navigate around the typical pitfalls of buying leads. In this document we hope to provide a basic foundation for buying leads in any vertical. One of the biggest challenges of being a lead buyer is determining what companies are suitable to work with. Who should I buy leads from? The LeadsCouncil s main objective is to help buyers navigate the lead generation ecosystem. There are a number of ways we go about doing this. Our members are made up of lead sellers and service providers that hold high ethical standards and have a strong focus on driving quality leads, improving transparency in the marketplace, and that assist buyers an optimizing their lead buying processes. More than 50% of our members are lead buyers. Each of them benefit from the insight and education they receive from being able to network with other like-minded lead buyers and sellers. We also provide a number of documents, like this one you are reading now, that help bring best practices to the forefront of their own business practices. For more information about the LeadsCouncil please visit In this document we will review some very important fundamentals of lead buying. Whether you are looking to begin buying leads or have been buying leads for the last few years, we believe this document will help guide you through some very important questions revolving around buying and managing leads. 1

4 HOW TO FIND THE RIGHT VENDOR BEFORE YOU BEGIN Online lead generation can offer scalable marketing results on a cost per lead basis. Insurance, Education, and Mortgage verticals enjoy a wealth and variety of lead generation options. While this marketing segment provides flexibility and low monetary risk, there are risks inherent to licensing your brand to an outside party. Affiliate marketing requires strict compliance monitoring and keen analysis for optimization. HOW TO GET LEADS DELIVERED Lead delivery depends on a company s current technology. For a lead can be contacted immediately after the prospect fills out the online form, live transfer via API is the best method. This is also commonly know as host and post. The vendor will host a request-for-information (RFI) form and post the lead details in a string of data to a lead management platform or database. RFI s generally include a logo at the very least and often a brief description on the product. If leads are worked in small volume or via direct mail, lead delivery via might be the most cost-effective option. While may be cost efficient is does pose a few potential issues. Generally delivery is slightly slower than leads being delivered via the Host and Post methodology. This means that if you are receiving a shared lead (one that is also being delivered to other companies) you may not have the opportunity to be the first company on the phone with the prospect. Additionally, becomes very difficult to manage when your organization grows beyond 2-3 employees. Distribution, tracking and optimization become a major challenge. 2

5 LEAD MANAGEMENT Lead Management involves managing lead quality, the integrity of your lead vendors, optimizing your sales process, and optimizing the overall campaign based on detailed analysis. Understanding the general process can help you determine the right questions to ask of a new lead source. First, there are various options available to measure lead quality. Lead scoring and lead verification companies can provide feedback on the potential to convert and the accuracy of the information. Further along in this document you find more detail on both lead scoring and verification. Lead quality can be monitored manually by spot checking data for obviously false information. The best measure of a lead comes from direct contact. Were you able to get a hold of the prospect? Whether using a call center or a small sales team, you must acquire feedback on the validity of the lead, their intentions, and the ultimate outcome of the sale. Conversion data is not only a key indicator of the for buying and managing leads ; it s a negotiating tool for the contract. The industry calls this tactic right pricing a lead. Rather than cutting a source off it is suggested that you simply price the leads according to your cost-of-sales goals. Conversely if you are seeing a campaign that falls below that goal you should be willing to increase your lead cost with that vendor. If you make the mistake of not increasing your lead cost and simply demand more volume it is very likely that the vendor will go our of their current marketing mix to find inexpensive volume to feed your appetite rather than spending more advertising dollars on higher prices campaigns that work for you. Lead verification data should be used for lead returns. Your goal should be to reject leads that do not pass your verification rules in real time. This will cut down on time wasted by your sales team on leads that will likelu never be contacted. You should also understand that there are a number of instances where you will receive false negatives and essentially be throwing away good leads. These false positives will not be significant and will not outweigh the benefits of eliminating the abundance of leads with bad information. Second, a seller and buyer must continue to do business in the manner agreed upon. Your initial conversations with the lead vendor will include finding out how they generate the leads and on what websites are the lead captured on. There are many situations where vendors will change their marketing tactics without notifying you. It is important to monitor Lead quality for changes in patterns. You may see volume spike during a specific time of the day, contact rates may drop, or you may experience an increase in complaints from the prospects. These are all signs that something has changed with the campaign and you should contact your vendor immediately to 3

6 find our what has changed. This typically is a sign that the vendor has brought on a new sub affiliate and the quality from the this affiliate is not good. In fact, the data is probably fraudulent and the was not created from the vendors website. A few things you should monitor include: Website content on the sites given to you from the vendors. Affiliate codes or traffic codes that will be passed from the vendors. The marketing methods used on a campaign should not change unless approved. TIP: Monitoring Affiliate Codes will give you the ability to hyper optimize your campaigns. Find out what codes are performing best for you! Third, take full advantage of your lead buys. Measure speed-to-lead and contact rate to analyze the initial sales cycle. The speed in which you call the lead is arguably the most important factor in your success with buying leads. The sales cycle should be dynamic to the marketing method. If the campaign runs an educational offer on a job site, be sure that the representative is aware of the lead s source. Call center and lead quality feedback should be shared with the vendor for optimization on the campaign. FINDING THE RIGHT VENDOR Use all available resources to research a new vendor. The best vendors will be familiar with your vertical, established in the industry, and will be willing to provide you assurance and transparency. A good lead seller can be a highly recommended veteran of the industry or a novice willing to prove their worth at a discount. Network to find feedback on companies and professionals within the industry, and ask the vendor directly for three to four client references. Good references should have an active campaigns that have been running for at least six months. It s important to look at the executives as well as the company when exploring a new partner. Review executive LinkedIn profiles to see previous employment data. TIP: Does the potential lead source list the founders or executive staff on their website? Can they be found on LinkedIn and do they have a significant history in the lead generation industry? These factors should determine how to intend to proceed with the partnership. 4

7 The seller must have the ability to financially guarantee their compliance with the law. Typically this is done through your contractual agreement to purchase leads from them. You should also confirm how long the company has been in business, specifically in your vertical. The vendor should be familiar with the climate and the laws related to your industry. If the company is publicly traded, take a look at the financials. Specifically, look at marketing spend and, if available, commission information. Ask for a full list of portals and always agree to specific portals in writing. All portals, including request forms, should include the vendor s privacy policy and contact information. Check traffic estimation tools to determine if the average traffic to these portals supports lead projections. FINDING THE RIGHT LEAD During the discovery phase, research and request information on how and where leads are generated. First, ask for a media kit. This can provide an overall summary of the campaign and can be referred to during the course of the relationship. Ask for the percent of traffic for each marketing method and require in writing that a vendor must have approval to change the mix for your campaign. Search-driven traffic generally yields a higher converting lead as the consumer is already motivated to search. Within search traffic, the consumer behavior further determines the quality of the lead. Natural traffic searching your branded URL yields the highest quality search lead, followed by organic and paid keyword users. Ask for a sampling and research the paid terms for the vendor. Consider prohibiting all partners from bidding on branded terms. Other terms can have compliance implications such as an education partner bidding on free grants. Services like SEMRush.com and SpyFu.com can offer a sneak peak into the traffic for specific domains. This is an excellent way to confirm what they are telling you is true. Too many times companies will say they drive a majority of traffic from Google s organic search results, but come to find out after reviewing SEMRush.com they have actually have ZERO traffic coming from that source. Display advertising is a great way to target a user that is not actively looking for a product. If a partner is utilizing this method on a campaign, ask for a general description of the site, estimated impressions and creative samples. The display offer should satisfy compliance laws and accurately reflect the product. For example, mortgage ads offering very low teaser rates (mortgage rates as low as 2.5hh%) might offer a lower quality lead due to the unrealistic consumer expectations. In general, the banner should be branded to the partner. Exceptions should warrant additional transparency. Moat.com and Adbeat.com offer samples of banner ads per company. 5

8 Affiliate marketing traffic partners can offer volume for a campaign but must be monitored closely. Affiliate marketing is the practice of rewarding 3rd party marketing partners for driving affiliate traffic or lead form data into the lead provider s landing pages for incremental lead flow. Fueled by incentives, lead quality can suffer due to techniques implemented by these providers to drive traffic. To avoid a high percent of fraudulent traffic, understand the partner s tactics in handling of affiliate relationships. How involved are they in the marketing mix? What lead verification processes are in place on the campaign? Whether third party affiliates are approved on a campaign, the service agreement should provide the buyer with full transparency in the instance of fraud and a right to terminate an agreement if violated. TIP: Affiliate marketing is not all bad, but must be closely monitored for fraudulent activity. As a lead buyer you will have little insight into what your vendor is doing, however by requiring sub ID s to be passed with the leads it will pull back the curtain just enough to where you can eliminate sub sources that are creating poor quality leads. Lead type can vary due to the exclusivity, branding, form length and subsequently the buyer commitment. A lead can be shared with several competitors whether they are actively choosing different options or blindly allowing a partner to provide information to an appropriate company. Typically the quality of a shared lead is lower, the cost of the lead generally reflects thethe lower rate of conversion. Exclusive leads can be generated through a multitude of marketing channels, but are typically captured via a an online form or through a live telephone transfers. Long forms, which frequently rewuire the prospect to complete a number of additional questions, can help qualify leads prior to speaking with the user. Mobile marketing often employs short forms and click to call options that lack qualifications, but can provide cost efficient scale to your lead buying efforts. Lead price varies with each business vertical and further by lead type. Cost per lead should be negotiable at predetermined intervals on the campaign. To start, cost should coincide with market averages and provide the buyer with a comfortable return on investment. The ROI can be estimated with the lead projections and conversion averages from the advertiser. Partners will often agree to a lower fee for a test campaign. 6

9 TIP: Determine a safe test CPL that will not leave you over exposed to a specific vendor, even despite of their promises that the leads will convert at a higher rate. Allow them to prove their claims and then adjust price according to your cost per sale goals. FILTERS Lead type and predetermined forms dictate the lead fields collected by the lead generator, but a buyer should be aware of what filters are necessary to the sales process or the optimization of the campaign. For example, you may find that you convert leads that have a specific criteria better than leads without that criteria and should adjust your filters to only include those leads. Forms can vary from three fields of data to a complete user profile of the lead. Increased form details may raise the lead price but could also help prepare the sales team for the eventual conversation with the prospect.. Short forms - ones that collect less user information - can be cost effective and lead to a higher form completion rate, but can also lead to lower conversion rates. Test the need for contact information by monitoring contact rate across different campaigns. In general, at least two forms of contact information (phone number, address, or ) should be valid for a lead. Demographic information can be used to filter lead traffic as well. Often a user will be required to answer qualifying questions prior to a branded lead form. In many cases these filters can be altered based on the performance of the leads. TIP: Be sure to provide conversion data to your lead source so that they can determine patterns in their marketing channels and optimize based on performance. Geo-targeting is often employed in many location-based offers such as college degrees or mortgage interest rates. Data from converted leads can help provide a basis for geo-targeted campaigns. Rather than filtering through non-qualified inquiries mostadvertisers have the ability to estimate the source location of each visitor to their site and target the offer. 7

10 NEGOTIATING TERMS Proper contracting should provide the buyer with the options to alter the campaign, return nonqualified leads and protect the assets of their company. A Master Service Agreement includes standard contracting terms and often addresses partner liability. Draft a contract that clearly outlines and demands compliance with the laws pertaining to your industry, clear expectations of the campaign, and methods for enforcement of those expectations. A contract should hold a partner liable for any violation of the agreement. If partners will not agree to unlimited liability, indemnification language should be added to provide unlimited protection for specific sections within the contract while specific and appropriate limitations are addressed in a limitation of liability section. Licensing rights should be clearly defined and give the buyer the right to approve all branded content. The return policy should be agreed upon in the contract and should reflect the buyer s right to enforce quality. While some vendors will allow for a flat percent of returns, others will allow reason-specific returns. Contracts under the latter agreement generally allow return of leads with falso or inaccurate information, leads that did not request information, or duplicate leads to their database. Further, a contract should outline the method, frequency, and allowed reasons for returns. Ranging from real time, daily, and monthly, returns can be communicated through , spreadsheet delivery or a lead management platform. Determine whether a vendor should be able to replace returned inquiries and base your allocation on either the raw total or the accepted count. A properly drafted Insertion Order (IO) should outline campaign allocation, lead cost, lead type, and duration. While the main terms of the Master Service Agreement will not change monthly, the Insertion Order (IO) allows the partners to adjust the purchase at certain intervals. The IO should address the total volume for a specific time period and the pacing in which those leads should be delivered. Daily pace should be based on how many leads the sales department can contact in a day and paced evenly throughout your campaign time frame. Anticipate daily volume variance due to holidays or patterns relevant to your vertical. For example, a weight loss offer should yield high interest on January 1st. If the sales department can contact leads on weekends, buy weekend lead traffic. If not, measure the opportunity appropriately to determine if it is worth your while to purchase weekend leads. Test the value by launching a small test on a weekend. Measure the contact rate and conversions against the weekday data. In a B2B industry, weekends may not produce high volume or value. TIP: Studies have shown that leads purchased on the weekend convert at a higher rate than leads purchased during the week. 8

11 Both parties should have rights to terminate the agreement. In general, the agreement should provide a timeline for termination without cause. If an agreement is terminated with cause, specifically fraudulent activity, both parties should have the right to immediate termination. The contract should outline which clauses will remain effective and all licensing agreements shall cease. Filter management and negotiations should be an ongoing process throughout the life of a campaign. Track performance metrics, alter filters, and track the changes that are made throughout the campaign. You want to be sure that your change are actually making a positive change in your business and not a negative one. A buyer can optimize filter management tactics by doing internal demographic studies and communicating filter changes to the vendor promptly. A seller should always communicate new filter options and general performance observations. Key indicators include conversions, contact rate and speed to conversion. Leads management platforms can provide real time feedback of these metrics, but manual communication can also be effective. Cost, initially, should be based on all the aforementioned details. The discovery phase should provide a good idea of the seller and lead quality. The test cost should be based on these estimates and negotiated as the campaign is reviewed. Section Contributor: Trip Jendron Trip Jendron currently serves as Vice President of Marketing at Wyndham Capital Mortgage, Inc. As a 10 year veteran in the on-line lead industry, Trip has worked across multiple facets of the lead generation industry. His past experience includes positions across 2 industry leading lead providers, a ground-breaking lead management/analytic company, and a bestin-class lead buyer. Section Contributor: Andrew Solberg Andrew Solberg, Vice President of Marketing at Full Sail University, has spent 17 years as an innovative educational leader for students interested in pursuing a career in the entertainment industry. Solberg manages the team responsible for student recruiting, advertising and marketing. He brings to the Advisory Board a keen understanding of the college enrollment process, both from the student and the parent perspective, with a focus on ultimately empowering the student to make the best decision possible. Solberg is a graduate of Liberty University. 9

12 I JUST RECEIVED MY FIRST LEAD, NOW WHAT? If you are buying or generating Internet leads and not using a system other than to receive and manage those leads, there is something you can do right now that will have an incredible impact on your success. Invest in lead management with an integrated telephony solution. Recent research published by Leads360 showed that companies purchase 2.5 times more leads after they implement Leads360. The number of leads purchased certainly correlates with the technology investment; however, it also supports the theory that Lead buyers who use lead management systems are far more successful than ones that don t. SEVEN THINGS TO LOOK FOR IN A GOOD LEAD MANAGEMENT SYSTEM A good lead management system should completely automate the lead management lifecycle from click to close. Your sales staff should make little to no manual decisions; and the management console should offer the administrator complete control to configure the software to meet the needs of the business. Your business should not have to flex to work with the software. If you are looking for a lead management system, you ll want to look for a solution that has these seven core capabilities: 1. L ead capture Whether you buy leads from pre-integrated lead source, generate your own leads or upload lists; a good lead management system is easy-to-use for all forms of lead capture. 2. D e-duplication of leads Automatically handle every type of duplicate lead in the most appropriate manner. 3. I ntelligent distribution distribution and redistribution rules, set and automated in a central management dashboard. 10

13 4. Prioritization Prioritization to ensure the next best lead is always at the top of the user s queue no manual decision making for the user. 5. I ntegrated Dialer With an integrated dialer, your sales team can call more quickly, make more calls and track more accurately. The best ones have the ability to make transfers based on eligibility and receive inbound phone calls too. 6. L ead Nurturing Automatically nurture leads through industry-specific and proven-to-convert drip s and text messages. 7. A nalytics Track, manage and optimize lead sources and team performance with superior reporting and analytics. TIP: Don t get overwhelmed with all the features. As you grow and feel more comfortable with your lead management system you will be able to slowly add features that are most appropriate to your company. GETTING THE MOST OUT OF YOUR LEAD MANAGEMENT SYSTEM Many companies take a haphazard approach in their contact strategy. Some call every lead as many times as they can until they are able to reach them, others hand out index cards to sales reps with five day old leads. No surprise that both approaches lead to suboptimal consumer response and poor conversion rates. Online lead management lends itself to continuous optimization. Taking a set-it and forgetit approach will only marginally improve performance. Customers that focus on continuous optimization, looking at key performance indicators like speed-to-contact, contact rate, qualification rate and conversion rate, can significantly accelerate sales and even decrease spend on lead sources that are performing poorly. TIP: It is very important to choose a lead management system that can grow with your company. While every business is different, if you need a contact strategy on which to iterate, Leads360 has studied an aggregate dataset covering thousands of clients and millions of leads and developed an optimal contact strategy. The study strongly suggest the magic number of call attempts to make is six, and the ideal strategy is to call three times the first day, with the first call made within the first two minutes, once again on day three, again on day four and a sixth and final time on day 11 or 12. The study found that by properly timing contact attempts, customers can increase their likelihood of converting a lead by 90% or more. 11

14 TERMINOLOGY Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software solutions that help enterprise businesses manage customer relationships in an organized way. An example of a CRM would be a database containing detailed customer information that management and salespeople can reference in order to match customer needs with products, inform customers of service requirements, etc. Typically a full CRM is equally focused on customer management as it is sales automation. On this basis many lead buyers opt for a specialized Lead Management System (LMS) to organize their relationships with prospects and manage their sales teams activities. Lead Management System (LMS) A Lead Management System is a software solution that is similar to a Customer Relationship Management system (CRM). It differs in a couple of ways: First an LMS is singularly focused on marketing and sales and therefore tends to have more flexibility and deeper functionality associated with finding and converting customers. Second an LMS is typically focused on businesses that sell to consumers whereas CRMs are built from the perspective of businesses that sell to businesses. A lead management system should have the following basic aspects of functionality: ability to receive leads from lead vendors and your websites, ability to distribute the lead according to rules that you set, ability to manage the lead as it passes through various different sales cycle stages, reporting capabilities. Different LMS solutions focus on each of these to varying levels; some are very strong on reporting while others focus more on the sales automation aspects. Dialer Dialers are telephone systems that are typically designed to assist sales agents to either make or receive relatively large numbers of calls in an organized manner. Some of the most sophisticated LMSs have native dialer systems. Section Contributor: Nick Hedges Nick Hedges joined Leads360 in 2008 as SVP of Business Development and was promoted to CEO and President in Hedges has been instrumental in driving the company s impressive growth and transformation from a mortgage-specific lead management provider to the market leader in consumer sales automation and telephony. As a 15 year veteran of the Internet and Software-as-a-Service industries, Nick has a passion for working with innovative businesses that have the potential to bring significant and positive change in the industries in which they operate. At Leads360, he brings that passion to work every day as he leads the organization. 12

15 LEAD SCORING BASICS Today, buying online leads and converting them into new customers can feel like eating a lobster dinner: there is much hard work and messy cleanup involved in getting at a modest amount of tasty lobster meat hidden beneath a hard, daunting shell. The good news is, third party online lead generators and affiliates can be a terrific source of plentiful, relatively low-cost sales leads. As a whole, they are quite adept at identifying interested consumers, seizing their attention and compelling them to fill out online registration forms. However, many lead buyers realize the quality of third-party leads can vary widely by source or be unstable over time. Depending on the product or service you offer, the economics of Cost Per Lead advertising can work with conversion rates as low as 1%. Just as with the lobster dinner, lead buyers often find themselves chewing on the shell. For many lead buyers, sifting through these leads to identify the good from the bad is perceived as the cost of doing business with the channel. Often this effort is a manual and subjective task performed by call centers and inside sales agents. Compounding this, in some industries the sales cycle may take weeks or even months. In the end, the cost of chasing after poor quality leads may exceed the initial price paid for them. Since the quality of leads can be volatile from month to month, even from the same lead source (often due to their sub-sources), how do you know if you re buying the right leads from the right lead providers, at the right price, RIGHT NOW? Can third party data and analytics vendors help you answer this question, and ensure you get the most ROI from CPL advertising? Fortunately, the answer is yes. 13

16 MANAGING LEAD QUALITY USING THIRD PARTY DATA & ANALYTICS By using a combination of third party data and predictive analytics services, lead buyers can painlessly separate the shell from the meat, so to speak, among online leads. Lead validation, verification, consumer data appends and predictive scoring and monitoring services enable lead buyers to: - Identify bogus and bad quality leads that should be rejected up front - Gain additional consumer demographic and other insights on your leads individually and across sources - Understand the quality of each lead to prioritize follow-up efforts and more effectively manage your lead vendors in real time. Employing these online services in a real time environment is important to get the most value out of them. Verification and scoring are not meant for merely historical analysis exercises, but rather to help lead buyers make data-driven, automated marketing decisions day in and day out that really improve the bottom line results of your CPL advertising. It s easiest to understand each of these services discretely. VALIDATING INDIVIDUAL LEAD FIELDS The first step involves red flagging any leads that contain bogus or invalid information in any of the individual fields. The leads you re procuring may include fields for first and last names, postal addresses, addresses, and/or phone numbers. In certain industries, social security numbers and dates of birth may be included, among other fields. The confirmation that each of these individual identifiers exist and are in a correct format is called validation, and that is a basic first step service in the lead quality management process. For example, an invalid postal address is one that is not recognized by the U.S. Postal Service as a mailable address. An invalid phone is one where the first six digits of a telephone number are not a valid area code and telecom exchange in the US. Invalid addresses are not recognized as being formatted properly for deliverability. 14

17 Unmailable postal addresses, phone numbers that are not dial-able and incorrectly formatted addresses are obvious marketer red flags. If one or more of these parameters is vital to you, you may choose to reject these leads outright, due to validation issues. Third party services can be used to instantly and cost-effectively spot these common data validation problems. As part of this initial validation scrub, lead buyers will often scrub out clearly false names and other info (e.g. Mickey Mouse and profanities). Validation alone, however, does not check the true identity of the full lead record, but only each individual input fields conformance to a certain recognized standard. Verifying the Lead as a Whole Once you know you have a valid name, phone number and address, lead verification takes the process to the next logical step: confirmation that the name can be linked to the address(es), phone number and other fields. In other words, does this person actually live at this address, and is this really his or her phone number or ? Social security number and date of birth can also be verified. Like validation, lead verification is another common, well-established lead quality management procedure conducted today. It helps you avoid purchasing and pursuing leads (via phone or mail). However, standard verification is not a panacea it has real and growing limitations. More and more people are cutting the cord of traditional residential land lines and unlisted phone numbers are becoming more common. As a result, traditional white pages and directory assistance databases have become melting ice cubes, providing less and less consumer coverage. Therefore, smart lead buyers employ very conservative strategies when rejecting leads using basic verification. In other words, they only reject those leads where zero contact information can be linked to the input name, or where actual contrary or negative information exists. (e.g.: the contact info is associated with someone else at a different address). Employing a conservative criteria may result in only a very small percent of your total lead volumes being scrubbed, but in doing so, you avoid generating false positives, or rejecting contactable leads. Together, validation and verification assess the quality of the submitted consumer data. A thirdparty service provider can perform both steps for a transactional monthly fee. Smart lead buyers, however, move beyond this basic tactical procedure and develop a larger strategy to maximize the overall contactability of leads and conversion rates. 15

18 APPENDING DATA FOR GREATER LEAD INSIGHTS The more you can know about a lead, the better, but online registration forms typically remain short. For every field you add, user abandonment rates can grow by 10 percent or more. Therefore, as a lead buyer you will often receive information limited to just basic contact info. By appending additional demographic data to each lead using a service provider, you can quickly gain a more comprehensive view of the consumer, or group of consumers, responding to lead gen campaigns. Data readily available to append to leads includes: This additional data can provide insights to a sales representative, prior to an initial followup phone call. Such enriched data can enable the representative to visualize the contact better, and construct an informed and directive approach to the sales call and personalize sales messages to maximize the opportunity for sales conversion. Additionally, patterns and differences in key demographics can provide additional clues about the quality of the leads you re receiving from different lead vendors (and their sub-sources). Data appends can also be performed on historical files of converted and unconverted leads, to uncover strategic insights. 16

19 SCORING LEADS TO PREDICT OUTCOMES However, it can remain difficult to distill all this raw data into meaningful action. How can you use information to quickly make automated, data-driven decisions that improve performance? That is where lead scoring comes in. The fourth and most important step in improving online lead performance goes beyond identity verification and appended data to utilize an automated scoring technique that predicts an outcome for each and every lead. Scores can predict different things, from initial contactability on one end to high lifetime customer value on the other and everything in between: likelihood to apply, register, enroll, convert, pay, retain, etc. Lead quality score ranges vary by type and vendor, but examples include 0-9, 1-10, 0-99, 0-999, 0-350, among others. Regardless, a high-scoring lead equates to a high probability of the outcome, while a low-scoring lead indicates a low probability of the outcome. Scoring of online consumer leads is similar in concept to the FICO score lenders use when making consumer underwriting decisions. They are built using past online lead performance data and predictive modeling techniques. Don t confuse online lead scoring with traditional B2B lead scoring modules, like those you see in various B2B marketing automation software packages. B2B scoring is quite different in that they are typically constructed using rudimentary behavioral rules and guesswork, not around data-driven statistical models. Because of this, B2C lead scoring is much more precise and accurate and allows you to create automated, datadriven policies about what to do with each lead in order to maximize performance and minimize costs. 17

20 LEAD SCORING AS VERIFICATION 2.0 Lead scores are increasingly being used to predict right party contact the likelihood you will actually get ahold of the person listed on the lead. Because they are built using predictive models and factor in a lot more data, this can be a powerful alternative to traditional lead verification services, which merely look to see whether there are linkages found between the name and contact data in a smaller set of databases. When measured against past contact disposition data, a contactability score will often prove more precise at weeding out bad, non-contactable leads. Lead buyers simply reject the lowest scoring leads as non-contactable, in the same way they rejected leads based on verification. Contactability scores offer greater flexibility you can easily tighten or loosen your verification parameters by simply turning the dial. Also, they offer greater insight than traditional lead verification: since it rank orders contact rates, you can see how contact data quality is trending up or down by vendor or their various sub-sources. 18

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