Below is a guest post from Straight North.

Organizations relying on their website for leads frequently leave out an extremely important component of lead generation marketing campaigns — lead validation.

Lead validation is the process of separating leads from other types of conversions, accomplished by reading website form submissions line by line, and by listening to recordings of phone inquiries generated by campaigns (SEO, PPC, display advertising, etc.).

In our presentation “The Critical Importance of Lead Validation in Internet Marketing,” you will see data that drives home just how important validation is. Our study of more than 350,000 conversions from agency and client campaigns revealed that about half of these conversions were something other than leads.

If, like most organizations, you are relying on conversion data to evaluate campaigns and make tactical campaign adjustments, your conclusions may be off by about half — far too large a margin of error for any serious Internet marketing campaign.

In particular, campaign testing is seriously compromised by relying on conversion data rather than lead data.

For example, consider a hypothetical PPC campaign in which Keyword A generates 400 conversions and Keyword B generates 300 conversions. The campaign manager will naturally put more emphasis on Keyword A, by increasing its budget, bidding more aggressively at prime times of day, etc.

But suppose the organization validates leads and thus learns that Keyword A generates 100 leads and Keyword B generates 250 leads. Now, the campaign manager will do the opposite of what conversion data suggested should be done. Now, by emphasizing the keyword that generates actual leads, the organization will increase lead output rather than reduce it, as would be the case in the earlier scenario.

When you consider that hundreds, if not thousands, of such decisions are made during the course of an Internet marketing campaign, it becomes apparent that organizations that fail to validate are really shooting themselves in the foot — missing out on leads they fairly easily could have captured.

Aaron Wittersheim is Chief Operating Officer at Straight North, an Internet marketing firm that specializes in SEO and PPC.

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