How to Select the Right Lead Generation Media Mix

Most B-to-B lead generation campaigns involve multiple touches via multiple media channels. But how do you decide which media are optimal, and more to the point, how they work together to generate a qualified lead?

Closing the Funnel: How Marketers Use Data and Attribution to Deliver Better Leads and Enable SalesMost B-to-B lead generation campaigns involve multiple touches via multiple media channels. But how do you decide which media are optimal, and more to the point, how they work together to generate a qualified lead?

It’s an iterative process. The first step is to establish with the sales team their monthly (or weekly, or quarterly) requirements for the number of qualified leads per rep — or by product, or by territory, or whatever is needed. Then, plan carefully the media mix that will feed the machine.

The media mix is a function of several variables, which you need to research:

  • The ROI each medium can deliver, based on your company’s experience and industry benchmarks.
  • The medium’s availability. Some media channels are scheduled intermittently. Consider when the trade shows and conferences in your industry are scheduled throughout the year. Other media may be only intermittently profitable. Content syndication, for example, is priced all over the place. Can you get enough leads from this channel to satisfy your requirements?
  • The campaign’s time horizon. Digital media are faster to produce than direct mail. Business events can take months of planning before a lead emerges.
  • Lead flow requirements. For example, sales may need more leads in the first and fourth quarters.
  • Your business objectives. Are there particular geographies or industry targets you need to reach?
  • Media effectiveness. Media come and go, in terms of their power to attract business buyers. Thank goodness there are new and exciting B-to-B media arriving on the scene regularly.

Enter your research data into a spreadsheet, and play around with it as an iterative planning tool. The table here presents a simple hypothetical example of how this can work.

Calculating Costs Per Lead by MediumYou can expand this spreadsheet to include other key variables, like timing, geographic territory requirements and your ROI hurdle rates.

You are likely to end up with some very inexpensive leads in your mix, and that’s a blessing. The unfortunate thing is that, typically, these leads are unlikely to be enough to meet your revenue targets or support your sales force’s quota. So you’ll need to select several options — ranking them by ROI, availability and your lead flow criteria — to come up with the optimal mix.

Multiple media working together generate better results than single media, with one big proviso: The messages must be consistent across media. An inconsistent message can cause confusion and erode the value of your brand.

Pulling this off is not always easy, especially in larger companies. You have to coordinate functional silos with their own managers, vocabularies, cultures, budgets and objectives. This requires tenacity, a focus on the customer experience, and support from senior management. But the payoff is colossal. All outbound contacts with customers, whether they are customer service messages or even billing-related messages, can potentially be harnessed for the lead effort.

A simple technique is to put the company URL on all messages received by customers. The same principle applies to customer touch points that are less obviously part of marketing communications, like packaging and invoices — any point where the customer comes in contact with the product or service. Be sure you have a gated offer prominently positioned on the home page.

Similarly, some ongoing marketing communications channels can be designed to support lead generation. To stimulate your thinking:

  • Ensure that all brand-awareness advertising includes an offer, a call to action and a response device.
  • Include a white paper offer, with response instructions, such as an 800 number or a web form URL, in your press releases.
  • When executives give speeches, invite your customers and prospects to attend.

Lead generation can harness all kinds of media channels, if you give it some thought and planning.

A version of this article appeared in Biznology, the digital marketing blog.

A Possible USPS ‘Exigent’ Rate Increase – Playing Politics on the Backs of Ratepayers?

There are rumors that the USPS may request another exigent rate increase. Why are we going through this again? Advertisers, marketers and the business community love certainty—and have a strong distaste for uncertainty. When one considers the financial situation of the U.S. Postal Service during the past couple of years, it’s enough to keep mailers at bay in planning their ad budgets, and keep them from devoting much to direct mail in the overall media mix.

There are rumors that the USPS may request another exigent rate increase. Why are we going through this again?

Advertisers, marketers and the business community love certainty—and have a strong distaste for uncertainty. When one considers the financial situation of the U.S. Postal Service during the past couple of years—from uncertain prospects of postal reform legislative efforts, to what any emerging postal reform effort might contain or not contain in cost savings, to short-term financial viability and this past year’s default—it’s enough to keep mailers at bay in planning their ad budgets, and keep them from devoting much to direct mail in the overall media mix.

Tying postage increases to the consumer price index and giving USPS the latitude to implement such increases annually (as is now the law) has helped give the business community certainty about postage costs, so they can plan and budget accordingly.

Allowing an “exigent” or additional postage increase to happen when there are extraordinary circumstances (as is also now the law) was intended as a “last resort” to make Postal Service finances whole. Let’s be honest: An extraordinary circumstance happens when there is an absence of postal reform efforts moving forward, and, possibly, when there is an absence of U.S. economic growth and an exhaustion of wise cost containment initiatives inside the Postal Service. All three of these latter scenarios don’t exist—so why even consider an exigent increase?

It’s a bad idea. First, USPS customers would detest such a rate hike, as they do. It’s an uncertainty.

Recently the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) in its Direct from Washington newsletter reported:

With reason to believe that the United States Postal Service (USPS) Board of Governors may vote on a potential exigency rate increase in early September, the Affordable Mail Alliance (AMA), including the DMA, sent a letter to the Governors voicing their opposition of such an increase. The letter expressed concern about the negative effects that would come with such an increase, especially for the mailing industry and its suppliers. The letter recognized the continued financial struggles that confront USPS, but also stated that an exigent rate increase is not the solution to those struggles. With recent progress toward comprehensive postal reform in Congress, along with steady improvement in the USPS balance sheet, the letter stated that an exigency filing ‘at this point would be premature.’ The letter additionally requested a meeting with the Board to discuss the issues at hand and to ensure that USPS is fully informed before making a decision of such great magnitude.

Second, if the architects of an exigent rate hike think that such a case is what is needed to convince lawmakers that postal finances are indeed a mess, and that a reform law—now in discussion—is desperately needed to fix them, then how dare play politics on the backs of ratepayers? An exigent rate hike is unlikely to move best-case legislation forward (and may even help move a bad bill, from customers’ perspective) and will saddle mailers with even higher costs than budgeted. Thus, there would be more uncertainty and more mail dollars flowing elsewhere in advertising.

As the Affordable Mail Alliance contends, any exigency scenarios are at best premature and, might I add, most likely non-existent. So USPS, please listen to your customers and just don’t go there.