I’m not saying you should stop buying leads altogether from lead generation companies – in fact, I sell leads myself. Buying leads typically allows advertisers both cost advantages and the ability to scale up quickly. However, if you are a lead buyer and have not (yet) invested resources to generate a large volume of leads internally, there are several reasons (including targeted leads for more profit) that you should seriously consider building this channel – sooner than later.
One huge reason is having the freedom to drive “free” inbound calls to your sales floor. Call-ins usually represent the low hanging fruit of the buyer base and are typically not a component of leads purchased from a third party. Obviously, there is a 100% contact ratio on call-ins (as long as someone answers the phone). Beyond that, the mindset of someone calling in is better because that person is reaching out to you. Therefore, the close ratio should be significantly higher on these calls and thus an added bonus to the online leads you are generating.
Not sure how to start? Here are 3 ways to drive inbounds as part of your lead generation campaigns:
- Offer an incentive on the confirmation page or “thank you page” for calling in rather than waiting for a call from you. This can be as simple as stating, on the page immediately following the submittal of the lead information, “Thank you, a representative will contact you within 48 hours. Or, to obtain your quote immediately, please call (800) 555-5555.” We once ran a campaign for satellite television where this strategy caused 10% of the leads to call in after they had submitted the lead. These call-ins closed at around 50%, which doubled the performance of the campaign as a whole.
- Put the phone number in a shadow box upon the exit of the landing page. If worded correctly, the exit shadow box can draw on a powerful principal of influence that social psychologist Robert Cialdini calls “rejection then retreat”. Simply stated, when the consumer chooses to the leave the page he/she is rejecting our request to complete the lead form. When we then ask the consumer to please call us instead, we are “retreating” to a lesser request. There is an ingrained societal obligation to comply with the second request. Or maybe some people just want to call instead – I don’t really know. I do know this though: doing this will drive inbound calls and help you monetize traffic that was falling off the page anyway.
Caveat: Facebook, some display publishers, and most paid search engines do not allow exit pops off the landing page. For those media types, simply build a landing page with the phone number displayed at the top. You will most likely see conversions into leads stay the same or go up. Conversely, many affiliates won’t want you to promote a phone number on the landing page for fear they will miss out on conversions (which is usually not the case). The exit shadow box is the perfect solution for these affiliates.
- Put the phone number in the ad. In testing this tactic with several different offers, we have found that the click through rates on ads do not go down when you include the phone number, and there can be a significant number of calls generated. One way to interpret this is that the people calling in from only seeing the ad are ones that are not comfortable clicking for whatever reason. By giving these people the option to call, you are tapping into a section of the market that you would not have otherwise reached. Also, out of all of your marketing creative, your ads are going to be in front of the most eyeballs. So, if done well, this can be very powerful. We have seen campaigns drive as many calls as leads from this method without producing a drop-off in online leads.
Caveat: If you are running email traffic, make sure to drive calls to an IVR (automated answering service) that allows an option for people to opt out, as you do not want to bog down the sales floor with people calling to unsubscribe.
Notice that none of the above strategies increase your media spend, hence the “free” label. All that said, there are costs associated with building out an internal lead generation channel and optimizing it until it is profitable. If you are not set up to generate leads internally because of technical and/or media buying resources, but still want to take advantage of the pros associated with generating your own leads, maybe an online direct response agency is for you, and we would love the opportunity to speak with you about it. In part 2 of this article, I will discuss why more expensive is better.