To overcome these online advertising challenges, it is helpful to look at consumer brand marketers, who are increasingly demanding performance in their online ad spending. B-to-c marketers led the way from CPM to cost-per-click to cost-per-lead; now they are in the forefront of cost-per-qualified lead.
In addition to paying only for qualified leads, consumer brand marketers no longer consider an e-mail address to be a "qualifier." Rather, they are using the Internet to identify prospects based on deeper characteristics, such as emotion, motivation and opinions.
This may sound like information that many prospects would hesitate to give up. But what b-to-c marketers have found is that prospects will gladly provide this information if they get something of real value?and that is relevant to the marketer's brand?in return.
The importance of an incentive with brand relevance cannot be overstated. To demonstrate this point, FreeiPods.com has found fame by giving away Apple's popular music players in exchange for minimal amounts of information. While iPods are certainly valuable, the problem is that they are valuable to everyone. Instead, consumer marketers are increasingly offering something integral to their own brand.
In the financial services sector, for example, this frequently means offering white papers, books, webinars or one-on-one consultations. In the end, this strategy may bring fewer total leads than a free iPod offer, but it will no doubt bring a much higher percentage of qualified leads.
In short, performance-based, qualified lead generation programs are proven in the b-to-c space, and there is every reason to believe that they will be every bit as successful for b-to-b marketers. Whatever your ultimate approach, remember the three biggest lessons:
Having e-mail does not a make a prospect qualified;
Don't offer what everyone wants, offer what your prospects want; and
Ask for qualifying information that gets you closer to the prospect who is ready to buy what you are selling.
B-to-b marketing no doubt has many more layers of complexity than b-to-c, but with the three simple rules above, success with online lead generation is not far away.
Gary Kreissman is co-founder and president of Precision Prospects. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.