Like most publishers, Reed Business Information offered little in the way of lead generation a few years ago. Today, lead gen accounts for one-third of RBI’s total online revenue and is included in up to 90 percent of the publisher’s online products.
“When we created RBI Interactive in 2006 one of our top priorities was to focus on capturing revenue from non-advertising budgets and lead generation was at the top of the list,” says Jeff DeBalko, president of RBI’s Business Media division. “Our initial focus was on developing a basic set of lead gen products, a strategy for taking them to market, and a ‘tool kit’ for the field sales staff to use to support their sales and promotion efforts.”
Core Product: The Resource Center
The core lead gen product is RBI Resource Center which is a typical content asset library. Whitepapers drive much of the activity but RBI has also seen success with research, surveys (especially salary surveys), case studies and in certain markets like construction, product specs. “Over the past several years, we have continually upgraded the core RC product to improve usability, provide better segmentation and targeting, and increase our ability to refine our demographic profiles through capabilities like progressive registration,” DeBalko says.
RBI created a centralized Lead Gen group within RB Interactive that included product, marketing and sales professionals with lead gen experience. While products and strategy were developed centrally, the teams worked directly with the brand sales teams to take the products to market and support the programs once sold.
For sophisticated tech clients, discussions focus on targeting, segmentation, and delivering high quality leads at very specific points in the purchase cycle.
For retail customers who are just beginning to understand online marketing, RBI might identify the Top 20 Lead Gen prospects, work with the editorial team and/or external resources to help the customers develop appropriate content assets (since in these markets they often don’t have any) and post these assets for a period of time at no cost to show the effectiveness of the programs.
The Future of Lead Gen
RBI is now focusing on helping clients act on lead information. Other opportunities include using content expertise to help customers fill “content gaps” in the purchase cycle (essentially, do they have the right information for their customers and prospects to move them through the purchase cycle).
“We also have the opportunity to integrate our lead gen capabilities with our direct marketing resources to deliver a high volume of contacts that match the demographic profiles of high quality leads,” says DeBalko. “This can be especially effective with sophisticated customers who may be looking for a high volume of contacts for their database at a lower cost-per-lead.”
The Five Rules of Lead Generation
Earlier this year, BNET’s Geoffrey James offered a look at five rules for successful lead generation. A full look at his blog can be found here.
1. Lead generation is actually “bad lead elimination.” Don’t chase geese—effective lead generation only results in as many leads as the sales team can close and only leads that are likely to close.
2. Leads are only useful if they convert into customers. Any lead that peters out and doesn’t convert adds to the cost of sales. You can blame the sales rep for not being able to close the lead but the truth is that if a lead if really good, virtually any moderately skilled sales pro can close.
3. A lead is a “good” lead (if an only if) it is easy to close. No, you won’t make a $1 million sale in a 10-minute meeting but spend as short an amount of time as possible developing the opportunity so that there’s a short sales cycle compared to the amount of revenue that’s generated. Because the sales cycle is short, such leads are more profitable than leads that take a long time to develop then don’t generate much revenue.
4. Good leads require a quantitative profile. The only way to create a profile of a good lead is to find out exactly what type of prospect is likely to buy. To do this, you have to develop accurate quantitative data, by interviewing sales reps who’ve sold the product, customers who did buy and even more importantly, those who didn’t.
5. Use metrics to hone the profile. Use the profile to eliminate all leads that aren’t likely to close. Track the “good” leads that did close, so you can continuously correct the course and create a profile that more accurately identifies those small number of leads who are quick and easy to close.