It wasn't that long ago that being in the lead generation business required that you produce something other than leads. Print and website publishers, list brokers, and event producers could all play in the lead gen sector because they had lists of people who had a demonstrated interest in a topic, area, or industry.
Like a lot of things in marketing, this has changed. And like a lot of things in marketing, data is a big reason why this has changed.
There are so many sources of data available today that the barrier to entry in the lead generation market has never been lower. As a marketer, you're probably already well aware of this because your inbox and voicemail are filling to capacity with messages from lead gen providers.
Vetting lead generation vendors means asking the right questions. While it isn't terribly difficult to get started in lead generation today, doing it well and helping marketers grow revenue is a different story.
With that in mind, here are five questions you should be asking your lead generation partners.
1. What is your quality process?
Now that all marketers are operating in a data-driven world, they should be familiar with a saying that's been used in analytics for years: Garbage in, garbage out. If garbage is going into your sales pipeline, you're going to have a problem, not only with your sales team, but in terms of growing your business.
Ask your lead gen partners and potential partners what their quality process looks like. At QuinStreet, we use everything from contact validation to call center scorecards and call reviews to ensure satisfaction, guaranteed.
2. How do you validate contact information?
A lead that you can't contact isn't a very useful lead. While lead gen vendors need to weed out bad contact information that's intentional (e.g., putting a fake phone number in a form) or accidentally (e.g., a typo), they also need to correct information that is no longer valid. People change jobs, their roles change, and they move. When these things happen, it can lead to a change in their business email address, phone number, or responsibilities at work.
At QuinStreet, our contacts validation process confirms actual job titles, a lead's status with their employer, and email testing. Our owned-and-operated call center confirms all contact data during their conversations with prospects.
3. Do you have a best practices document you can share?
A best practices document does two things.
It demonstrates experience. Best practices are developed from years of running lead generation programs and seeing what works and what doesn't.
It shows an investment in your success as a client. A lead generation vendor could sell you leads and go on its way, but a number of things need to happen before and after your campaign to help turn the leads into prospects and eventually into business.
At QuinStreet, we conduct a Customer Success Call with our clients to review best practices and better understand how they will use their leads after they are delivered. It's our chance to share our knowledge with our customers, because when they succeed, we succeed.
4. Can you outline the steps from inception to delivery?
With so many players entering the lead generation space, understanding the process for collecting, verifying, and delivering leads becomes extremely important. From helping you design a custom program that will meet your goals, to identifying your target market, nurturing leads, and the lead delivery, the right partner will outline exactly what they are doing to help you grow your business.
At QuinStreet, our Customer Success team not only helps shape lead generation programs, they explain each step along the way as we identify, target, and deliver your leads.
5. How do you build prospecting lists to be later targeted with client content?
This is perhaps the area where lead generation has changed the most in recent years. Today's lists are a far cry from the ones that list brokers would sell in the past based on subscriptions or attendance at an event. The number of data sources available means today's lists are more targeted than ever before.
At QuinStreet, we custom build segments to meet our clients' filter criteria for each and every program using our internal data and data from our industry-leading partners.
The process involves three steps:
- We leverage purchase intent to identify companies showing activity relevant to our customer's solution. This leads to the creation of a Total Addressable Market (TAM).
- Next, we apply the customer's account lists, exclusion lists, firmographic filters, etc. to the TAM.
- Then we select the most active prospects on the TAM list that meet the client's profile criteria, such as job role or title. This becomes the client's Total Actionable Market. These are the people most likely to help you grow your business, and they are the people we will target with your message.
There are a number of other factors that go into choosing a lead gen partner, of course. But the next time you find yourself on the receiving end of a phone call or email from a vendor asking you about lead gen, start asking some questions of your own.