B-to-b construction and real estate publisher Hanley-Wood, often considered one of the more creative media companies in generating new revenue strategies, is on the cusp of significantly building out its lead-generation operation. With that expansion, and the marketing acceleration that comes with it, is some concern over protecting response rates.

While the company has always been deeply involved in more traditional lead generation tactics—third-party email rentals through a list broker, for example—the company is now focusing on Webinars, its Build TV platform, whitepaper downloads and custom media operations to expand revenue potential. "We’re in the process of trying to grow lead-gen," said Nick Cavnar, Hanley Wood’s vice president of circulation and database development. "It’s a big growth opportunity for Hanley Wood."

Currently, lead-gen campaigns that generate leads for third-party clients typically center on custom programs set up with cooperation from the client. "We’ll create, or they can create, specific content—a Webinar or other online event, a TV program, a whitepaper—that customers register to gain access to. We’ll have that name and it also goes to the advertiser as a sales lead," said Cavnar.

What the company has found, however, is leads are typically generated from customers already in Hanley Wood’s database. "What we’re finding to date, and this is what I’m hearing from other companies, is the main response we get is coming from the email we push. We’re not generating a huge number of leads who are new customers. There are a small number, but the thing that really drives the leads is the email promotions we send out."

In that sense, Cavnar does not detect any tension between Hanley Wood’s sales team, who needs the leads to sell to marketers, and the internal marketing team, who uses those same leads to market Hanley Wood products to. "They’re not new leads for us, we’re generating them from our existing database. I don’t find any tension for us, they’ve already been our names."

Most of the programs conducted with marketing clients are one-off projects, but Cavnar does see stress potential for shared lists that are generated from scratch.

The bigger issue, and one that publishers wrestle with even without a lead-generation program, is burnout. "How you maximize return on the email database without wearing out your welcome with your existing customers," as Cavnar puts it.

The problem is exacerbated as new products and opportunities are rolled out to boost lead sales and marketing. But Cavnar sees an opportunity in grouping promotions, especially since Hanley Wood’s audience tends to overlap across brands.

Currently, marketing efforts are done vertically by brand. Cavnar envisions a campaign that groups overlapping brands into a single effort that allows customers to pick the event they want. "We could send out one email to a larger audience and list our top Webinars for the week. In stead of three separate people getting three separate emails, they get one and pick their opportunities. Then we could take our lead generation opportunities tied to several brands and pull together a much larger list," he said.

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