Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Fishing for B2B leads? Choose the right bait.

Fishermen (fisherpeople?) choose their bait based on the type and quantity of fish they hope to catch. On the lakes of Minnesota, worms and small leeches are great for catching sunfish, and if find a good spot, you can catch a lot of them in a short time. However, it's likely that you'll also end up throwing many of them back because they're too small to be "keepers." Bait such as sucker minnows or spinner lures will attract larger, more exciting prey like northern pike. These larger fish are more elusive, so you likely won't end up catching many, but each one will be larger and more fun to catch than a small panfish.

The same principle holds true in b2b lead generation. Different types of b2b lead generation programs can be used to draw visitors to your landing page, but once there, your incentive for response is the bait that determines the quality and quantity of leads you'll "catch." The greater the involvement you require of respondents, the lower the quantity but the higher the quality. Several examples are shown in this illustration:


Sweepstakes require very little involvement; a site visitor gives you their basic contact information in hopes of winning an iPod, a trip to Hawaii, or whatever. They are great for collecting a large quantity of names, but often few actual sales leads.

White papers are a popular and productive incentive for response. They weed out the pure prize-seekers attracted by sweepstakes because anyone willing to take the time to download and (hopefully) read a white paper at least has an interest in the particular technology area addressed. White papers also have far more branding value than sweepstakes. They are one of the most commonly used response incentives because of the balance of relatively high quantity and quality they provide, although sales will still often end up "throwing back" many of these leads.

As the level of involvement required increases, so does lead quality, but the numbers get smaller. A respondent willing to sign up for a free trial and actually use a software product—particularly in a corporate environment where IT approval is needed—has a relatively high probability of becoming a buyer (assuming the software actually works as promised). And at the far right of the diagram above, if the only incentive for response on a landing page is to be contacted by a sales person, the conversion rate will usually be very low, but the leads generated will be serious prospects.

The diagram above shows just a representative sampling of incentives for response that can be used; there are many other creative incentives that can be offered. The point is that the level of involvement required of the visitor is the key to estimating both the probable response rate and quality of the resulting leads in your bucket.

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