A little-known fact. Prior to Integrate, I spent three years in performance-based media sales. It was the most challenging role of my sixteen year sales career. Challenging enough that I was over-the-moon happy to leave sales and transition into its much more predictable counterpart—marketing.
Those three years though did instill in me a level of empathy for both the media company that I worked for and the marketing clients I served. Experiencing the “before” version of an industry barely touched by the marketing tech revolution allows me to more fully appreciate the available technologies today that support smarter marketing.
Not to say that mistakes don’t still happen or that we aren’t still in a learning curve. However, eight years ago there were a lot more “not so smart” media and marketing mistakes. For example…
Mistake #1: Neglecting Missing Fields
The first sale I ever made was a host-and-post lead gen campaign for an auto-financing company. It took close to a month to get everything setup. Those four weeks were excruciating – about a hundred emails back and forth between me and the client, our delivery team, our IT team, the client’s IT team, the client’s legal team… Finally, the campaign went live. Within 48 hours, the customer shut it off.
One core data requirement was social security number (common for most finance companies), yet we were somehow failing to pass this required field. The customer’s internal lead system was not set up to trigger posting errors for missing fields. The client was furious that we could make such a careless mistake and revoked the campaign immediately. Can you blame them?
Smart Marketing Tip
Both parties must make certain that campaign parameters are clearly understood from the outset. Media partners have an obligation to dot i’s and cross t’s. Marketers may want to consider being more flexible with partners who are willing and able to append data and correct errors.
Numerous campaign- and lead-management solutions are now available that not only save a ton of time building marketing programs on the front end, but also go a long way in enforcing adherence to campaign parameters. It’s helpful for both parties to have software in place that automatically rejects leads with incomplete data and notifies media partners so the missing data can be appended and the lead reposted immediately.
Mistake #2: Not Verifying Data
My biggest letdown was when I landed my first agency campaign to fulfill a co-registration offer for a major tobacco brand. The campaign criteria included only name, email address and birthdate to verify that the consumer was over the age of 21. Pretty simple, right? Think again.
We ran the campaign only with sites that already had age verification in place. Due to the popularity of the offer, it capped out at its $30,000 budget in ten days’ time. I eagerly awaited feedback from the agency regarding lead quality and campaign renewal. What I received instead, more than three weeks later, was a return file with 85 percent of the leads for failure to pass the end client’s third-party email validation or age verification. If we had received prompt feedback on the quality of the leads, there may have been an opportunity to correct course.
Smart Marketing Tip
Data quality is one of the most talked about subjects in marketing today. 77% of marketers report that lead quality as their number one goal, but few of them have the proper solutions in place to ensure quality standards. You can consider developing an internal data quality check list or leverage technology to handle this for you. Data validation solutions are on the rise. Agencies, marketers and media partners all need to get on board if they are to continue to build valuable relationships with their counterparts and customers.
Mistake #3: Relying On 90 Day Reporting Cycles
My largest client was also an agency in charge of driving fulfillment for an education lead gen program. The client’s monthly media spend with us was between $125,000 and $250,000. We posted about 1500 leads per week to the agency which were then passed to the client’s call center for follow up. One the third Thursday of every month, I received an excel file containing all the leads from the previous month that were either duplicates, contained inaccurate data or were not interested by the time they spoke with an enrollment counselor. And once a quarter, I received a larger file of additional returns with a request to no longer deliver leads from the sources that generated those leads.
This went on for several quarters, until one day my media buyer friend delivered the news that after finally evaluating conversion metrics from the client for the first half of the year, we were the single lowest converting media source. The campaign of course was shut off. But that wasn’t really the unfortunate part. What was most disheartening is that it took nine months and more than $2M for the agency to report back to us that we were not meeting the college’s lead-to-enrollment conversion rates.
Smart Marketing Tip
Regular communications need to take place between marketers and media partners to communicate key conversion metrics so that campaigns can be quickly optimized. When millions of dollars and brand reputations are at stake, we simply cannot afford to rely on quarterly reports to deliver insights vital to the success of our respective businesses.
Many marketers are implementing closed-loop integrations with media partners. This allows the partners to directly inject leads into the clients’ sales and marketing systems for faster nurturing and sales follow-up. And it allows the client to pass back conversion metrics on KPIs as they occur. Both marketers and media partners gain insight into the best converting content, creative, personas, placements and more. Learnings can be applied to optimize programs in real-time and everyone wins.
The marketing tech landscape is vast and can certainly be intimidating to the novice user, but within it lie the true secrets to success for both marketers and the media partners with whom they work. These innovative platforms can help decrease cost per opportunity, increase lead velocity, improve data quality and most importantly deliver a superior customer experience. With the right martech, everyone wins.