April 1, 2015

Roundtable Discussion: Lead Generation in a Post-PC World

Laptops and desktop computers are so 2011.

Laptop broken

According to comScore, mobile phones and tablets now account for 1 in 8 total Internet page views in the U.S., and by the end of 2012 smartphones will become the mobile majority. As a result of this tidal wave of a trend, the mobile ecosystem and location-based interactions are stealing the spotlight, and marketers are finding new opportunities to engage consumers in more intimate, mutually beneficial ways. This has big implications for the way leads will be generated, too.

To shed more light on lead generation in a post-PC world, we’ve rounded up the input of four experts. In this roundtable discussion, you’ll read about why marketers should pay attention to Africa, Central America and South America; the renewed importance of phone calls; the importance of user-centricity; and how marketers can cut through the noise.

Ori Carmel, VP of performance strategy, MediaWhiz
To understand the impact of mobile on the lead-gen industry, and online marketing as a whole, marketers should look toward the developing countries in Africa and Central and South America. There they will find the future of mobile lead generation and e-commerce.

Lacking infrastructure, entire regions in the developing world have leapfrogged the PC era. People in these regions rely on mobile technology to operate and streamline many aspects of everyday life, including business interactions, regardless of how large or small those businesses are. At the click of a button individuals can conduct their entire business cycle, including acquiring new customers and solidifying existing ones through mobile-optimized e-commerce and lead-gen platforms.

For the lead-gen world, the implications are massive. As the U.S. transitions to the complete mobilization and personalization of both information and access, potential and existing consumers can now be reached at any time, in any place. This ongoing shift, which is only speeding up, is changing consumption patterns of information and purchasing right before our eyes. Marketers can gather more precise and relevant information to better tailor offers to behavioral and demographic profiles. Brands can pinpoint the exact moment at which the potential client is most receptive to signing up or converting.

Furthermore, with increasing resources going toward tailoring brands’ mobile presences and usability, consumers continually grow accustomed and now expect to be able to gather info, sign up and transact online. As a result, consumers are more receptive than ever to being targeted for intelligent, value-driven offers and opportunities on their mobile devices.

The future of PC usage in the U.S., or anywhere else for that matter, is far from obsolete. However, it is certainly past the growth stages of its life cycle.

Tim Judd, president and CEO of eLocal Listing
According to a recent Jefferies survey, mobile engagement has risen 35 percent whilst newspaper and magazine engagement has fallen 28 percent and 19 percent, respectively; and there are projections from Cisco and Gartner showing mobile data growth of 100 times by 2020. It is more than a post-PC world — it is a mobile-driven revolution. Against this sea change in user behavior and expectations, we should contrast the user’s basic needs.

While part of the lead-gen industry still has reservations, it’s clear that the users don’t: they are using their mobile devices for just about everything. They expect useful content and “transactable” commercial messages. What’s fascinating about the mobile explosion is that the most obvious deliverable through the vast majority of mobile devices is, in fact, the good old-fashioned phone call — how very last millennium.

The tracked quality lead driven through multiple kinds of new media but experienced on the smart handset is the emerging new normal. The great strength of this approach is that it resonates with even the most conservative and technophobic local businesses. However, there are many challenges around this trend back to a more call-centric delivery approach, with the main being the inability of many SMBs to actually answer the phone and respond to an opportunity in a timely and professional way. For larger businesses grown used to a lead ecology driven by form submissions and email, the usability problems associated with mobile devices are a real problem, and the deployment of call centers or distributed agents to respond to these conversations also generates its own problems.

What’s clear is that the call as a lead-generation delivery mechanism flattens out the technological challenges of new media while delivering indisputable ROI to all businesses. Somebody pass me the flux capacitor.

Zephrin Lasker, CEO of Pontiflex
Search advertising took off in the early days of the Internet as people spent their time browsing. Now search is no longer the dominant behavior, as mobile and social emerge. Ad models are changing, too — lead generation is poised for growth in a post-PC world.

This is because lead generation is fundamentally user-focused, more so than most other forms of advertising. And it is the user who is at the center of the post-PC world.

Users are the people who are your friends on Facebook, your followers on Twitter. They each have their likes and dislikes. They want personalized content.

Like personalized content, they also always want advertising that is relevant to them. They want to be able to sign up for ads from advertisers that they like. And here’s where lead generation becomes especially important.

Lead-generation solutions of the future will share three characteristics:

1) Cross-platform: In 2012, there were more mobile phones shipped than laptops and desktops combined. The lead-generation solution of the future will work seamlessly across multiple platforms.

2) Hyperlocal: Ninety-eight percent of people in America use their mobile phones to search for local information. Mobile devices are identity- and location-aware in a way PCs never were. Good lead-generation solutions will give advertisers the ability to reach consumers anywhere.

3) Privacy-compliant: People have to be able to opt in to the offers they want to receive. It will also give them the option to opt out of future advertising in a clear and direct way.

Advertising in the post-PC era will be user-focused, and lead generation can become one of the native models to monetize this new world.

Sandra Zoratti, VP of marketing, executive briefings and education, Ricoh Production Print Solutions (RPPS)
Our world has radically changed. With the exponential growth of devices and a multitude of new online marketing channels — social media, mobile, email, blogs — the digital age has led to a deafening cacophony of marketing messages.

In this “post-PC era” of instant, abundant communications — online, mobile, offline and across multiple channels simultaneously — successful marketers must cut through the clutter to increase lead generation by remaining relevant. How do they do that?

The starting point is relevance. Ironically enough, despite the mass of new mediums for delivering marketing messages, customers still value the message above all. A recent study showed that 41 percent of consumers would consider ending a brand relationship because of irrelevant marketing, and 22 percent already have. Thus, whether online, offline or mobile, the message must be targeted and relevant.

It begins and ends with the data. To effectively deliver targeted, personalized messages, a marketer must “know” each customer. Once scarce, data is now abundant, providing marketers with a wealth of information to support successful, ROI-driven lead-generation campaigns.

An example that crystallizes the importance of relevant, targeted messaging: The website One Day, One Job helps recent college graduates find jobs. One candidate created a very precise, targeted ad seeking a job at Disney and received 685 clicks, 21 emails, four Facebook messages, and a job interview at Disney. In contrast, another candidate tried a less precise approach, with an ad that went to 15 companies. Although the ad received 50,992 views, it received only 117 clicks and no job leads.

With good data in hand, a company can create a successful lead-generation program that specifically targets each segment of current and/or potential customers. This will allow them to cut through the increased noise that is the result of the post-PC era and create successful, cost-effective campaigns.

By Jason Hahn

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