“Taking the $10 lead and turning it into the $100 lead.” I wish I could take credit for that phrase. But, I’d have to defer to Jason Ward, Edgell’s director of lead generation, for opening my eyes to the concept. It’s also become the motto that we, as a company, have used for the last year to rework and re-craft Edgell’s lead generation efforts.

How can a publisher make a shift? The key is to move away from a model where you are simply delivering contact names to a customer and into an arena where you are delivering qualified and nurtured leads to the customer.

As a publisher, if we can deliver more intelligence around a lead, we have the ability to cut down the conversion cycle for the marketer and, in turn, capture new marketing dollars to our lead generation efforts—making the move from a $10 lead to a $100 lead a reality.

Tapping the Revenue Stream

When architected properly, our online channels can show us usage habits, reading trends, and other types of content and vehicles that a user likes to engage in. Therefore, if you can mine this usage data, you can increase the knowledge you have on a user and, in turn, increase the intelligence that you deliver to a marketer about that user through a lead-generation campaign.
Here’s some examples of things that Edgell is using to increase the intelligence it brings to customer lead programs:

• Giving insight into content engagement habits for a lead

• Providing simple ways to add questions or poll readers for further qualification

• Allowing customers to combine programs and analyze user engagement across several like lead products

• Regional and demographic targeting of leads to meet customer demands

• Behavioral targeting of marketing effort to deliver in-target leads for customers

• On-demand and customized access to leads for customers to allow quicker follow up with potential customers

Achieving the levels of trackability detailed previously requires strong business and technology planning as well as discipline from your entire organization—from sales to editorial to production. On the technology front, here are some key things to consider:

• Align Your Forms – First make sure the data sets you’re capturing align across channels. This was a big problem at Edgell and now that we’ve aligned our forms, we are seeing more consistent datasets and can more easily run intelligence reports across channels.

• Integration between your CMS and LMS – If your content management system (CMS) and lead management system (LMS) aren’t working in lockstep with each other, there is no way you can effectively track user engagement.

• Unify Your Content Tagging and Use It – Make sure you have a consistent tagging structure for content and that all of your editors are tagging content as thoroughly as possible.

• Make vs. Buy – Building a lead-generation platform is challenging and needs to be well thought-out. In either case, be sure to customize the platform to your CMS and business needs.

• Have Your Databases Talk – Ideally, all publishers would have a single database. But, in reality, most publishers live in a multi-database world. When it comes to re-architecting your lead system, publishers have to make sure these databases effectively talk to each other and seamlessly share data.

Intelligence is the Key

There is no doubt that lead-generating products have proven to be a strong revenue driver for today’s publishers. But, to keep that revenue stream alive, publishers of all sizes have to re-invent their lead-generation by offering more audience intelligence. Publishers that can achieve that goal will deliver smart and more nurtured leads and, in turn, open the door to new revenue opportunities.

Robert Keenan is the vice president of online media at Edgell Communications, a Randolph, NJ-based b-to-b media company.

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