The art of data capture

Net Imperative

October 2010 has been a watershed month for the UK online lead generation (OLG) industry. For the first time the biannual IAB PwC adspend study has measured the size of the lead gen market in the UK which has been valued at £21.6m for the first half of 2010. This represents 1% of all online adspend over the same period and is a major achievement for all those companies that have been banging the lead generation drum over the last few years.

Although it’s just a start, having a definitive market value lays down the foundations for lead generation in the UK to continue to carve out a niche for itself in the digital marketing landscape and compete for all those online advertising budgets.

While all this is great news for lead generation companies, now the hard work begins as OLG is a lot more than deciding how many leads you want and how much you can pay for them. From having a process in place to follow up each lead to deciding whether you want an incentive to entice consumers to leave their information there are a whole range of factors to consider when planning a campaign.

One of the most important considerations for lead buyers is the actual data capture itself. Driving consumers to a landing page with a data capture form is just one part of the process. The real skill is getting the consumer to actually submit their details. For large campaigns the smallest details can have a significant effect on form conversions (i.e. the % of consumers that leave their details compared to how many visit). Even the font size of the questions can have an effect.

Broadly speaking, lead buyers want to capture as many fields of information as possible as more data submitted signals a stronger intent from the consumer and the better you can profile your customers and remarket to them. Lead suppliers on the other hand want to capture as little information as possible to maximise the number of leads generated for the lowest price.

A successful campaign will strike a balance between the two that ensures a consistent volume of leads at a price and conversion rate that fit in with the campaign objectives. In order to achieve this it is important to always bear in mind what these objectives are. For example, if you plan to follow up each lead by phone, do you want to capture one contact number or two?

Of course if the consumer leaves two separate numbers it increases your chance of making contact and probably shows that the consumer intent is stronger. The overall effect should be higher conversion rates. However, by requiring two contact numbers a certain percentage of consumers that reach the landing page will “drop off” the form and not submit their details.

Perhaps some of these consumers would have completed the form if only one contact number had been required and a percentage of these would have converted into business so asking for an extra contact number might actually lower the overall campaign ROI rather than increase it.

In the end, playing with all the variables will have a different overall effect depending on the campaign. Advertisers that want to maximise their chance of success with OLG should be prepared to do some testing with different landing pages and forms to optimise form conversion and lead performance.

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