Demand generation and how to choose between lead generation programs and display advertising campaigns (Part 2)

Part 2: Running and evaluating your campaigns

In Part 1 of this series, we compared lead generation and display advertising initiatives in terms of planning and set up. With that knowledge under your belt, let’s get into the logistics of actually running the programs and then look at the factors that will affect returns.

 The management

Display can be managed by a small in-house team, or by your friendly neighborhood Ad Coordinator from eBridge Marketing Solutions (shameless plug) if you don’t have the internal resources or skill sets to effectively manage your campaigns.

For lead generation, management will be required in the initial set up of the program (e.g. managing the production of the asset, such as the whitepapers) as well as management of the sales team that handles the follow up. Lead generation programs can benefit greatly from automation tools that make the task of organizing and managing leads and content a streamlined, efficient process.

 The flexibility

In general, both display and lead generation campaigns are quite flexible if you’re looking to make changes or adjust your campaign in any way. Assets can be swapped after campaigns have begun. Frequently campaigns can be paused as well while the changes are being prepared.

The timing

Your programs are up and running and now you’re asking yourself, how long is it going to take to generate leads and sales?

With lead generation, depending on the program, leads might be trickling in over months. It can also take time to develop the relationship and support the buyer through their buying journey  – ideally you will have systems in place to stay in touch and keep your business top of mind, as we touched on above.

Display advertising can lead to direct sales for inexpensive, impulse buys, so you can certainly see some conversions quickly. This is generally not the case for longer sales cycles, where lead generation is more relevant and direct contact with the prospect is important.

The returns

When undertaking any sort of marketing or sales program, you will of course be focused on the ROI and factors such as attracting leads in the first place and the volume of leads you need to make the program profitable.

Generating the lead

With lead generation programs, it’s important to understand that they require a level of commitment on the part of the prospect – they are giving up their contact details. To get over this hurdle, the asset needs to be valuable enough for them to be willing to part with their personal information. With the over saturation of free content available online, and people trying to manage their overflowing inboxes, capturing interest and convincing someone to share their contact details is a challenge. You will also get some people who are interested in your free content, but not actually interested in buying from you.

Display advertising, on the other hand, involves no such commitment on part of the ad viewer, and may for this reason seem more attractive (and easier!). However, competition is fierce in the advertising space and it is getting harder and harder to attract those clicks amidst the clutter.

Volumes and profits

Returns are a function of what is being sold – the more sophisticated and involved the purchase, the fewer leads will be generated, but each lead will be more valuable.. In general, the more expensive the service being sold, the fewer sales are needed to justify the expenditure of the campaign and to generate a positive marketing ROI.

Returns and volumes will also vary depending on the target market, as well as on other factors such as the delivery of the product or service itself, how well your website converts, and your brand equity and reputation, to name a few.

Given the nature of lead gen programs, they are typically designed for higher value transactions. Costs for lead generation generally can’t be justified unless there is a larger ticket price (a rough guide would be north of $1000 per sale).

With display advertising, the returns are definitely not what they used to be. Average click through rates are less than 0.01%. However, they are still an important vehicle for branding and awareness, driving initial traffic that can be retargeted and to support other marketing and community building efforts, such as gaining social media support or growing your email list.

Success tips for either route

  • Test, test, test! This is the only real way to know how a specific tactic works for your business. The lessons you will learn from the data you collect (make sure you are tracking everything!) are invaluable and can help to inform your marketing plan and sales strategies moving forward.
  • Target, target, target! The more specific you can be about who your offering is for, from your ad creative to your webinar topic, the more qualified your prospects will be.
  • Leverage landing pages. No matter what type of online sales program you’re running, when you are driving traffic with a specific campaign, a landing page allows you to immediately hone in on and speak directly to your target audience about the particular offering they were interested in. A well designed landing page ensures no one you attract gets lost and that you give your business the best possible chance at converting the prospect.

Leaning towards lead generation and interested in deepening your understanding? Check out our blog archives for more insights. Want to learn more about how we can support you when it comes to lead generation programs or display advertising campaigns (or both)? Contact us today!

Posted January 20, 2015
Categories: Blog, Demand Generation
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