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7 Steps to Maximize Email's Role in Lead Generation Programs

In this article on iMedia Connection, Brent Rosengren lists seven specific steps to ensure your online lead generation works to its fullest potential:

1. Clearly define the main goals of your lead generation program.
If the goal is to build or grow an email marketing database, make sure that all the strategy is geared toward effectively collecting emails and making it simple for the user to do so. Then ensure you have clearly defined what will happen next for the user and your marketing team.

2. Choose the appropriate method of collecting personal information.  Here are four methods generally used to collect an email address during an online promotion.

  • Opt-in: An unchecked box, which contains language clearly stating what it means by checking the box.
  • Opt-out: A pre-checked box. It also contains language clearly stating what it means by checking the box.
  • Requiring that the user must provide an email address to participate in an online program: If used, the language should clearly state that the user should expect future communication and can opt-out at any time. This is often used when the participant is getting something of value in return.
  • Implied consent: Often the path of least resistance but not a best practice as there is no permission granted and you are not stating how someone's email will be used. You should not assume your participants know that they will receive emails from you in the future by providing their email address during a sweepstakes or promotion. Please note that this method is illegal in Europe.

3. Make sure you cover your legal bases.
If you are collecting any type of personal information online and are intending to use it in any way -- especially email addresses -- you should clearly state this in your privacy policy.

In addition to the Privacy Policy, you should address the future use of any personal information collected in the specific Terms and Conditions of the program or sweepstakes, especially if you are using the above implied consent method.

4. Identify all possible points of communication.
Any time you are driving traffic to your site, make sure to maximize your investment and the participants' time.

  • Use all possible real estate on your content, sign-up and confirmation pages.
  • Make all microsite pages and forms standalone pages; pop-ups often don't work.
  • Make sure the main marketing goal and its messages are well positioned above the fold on your pages and are clear to the visitor. 
  • If collecting email addresses, make sure you email them within an effective timeframe. 

5. Examine the viral capabilities of the program.
What's more valuable than having participants recommend your program to their friends? Again, go through the viral functionality to unsure it maximizes the effect of social marketing rather than hurting your effort. Confirm that the viral messaging is as personalized as possible from the participant to their friends. Clearly state to the "friend" that her information is not going to be used in future emails but do allow her the opportunity to opt-in.

6. Ensure a pleasant user experience.
Test before you launch to ensure every aspect of the user experience is seamless. This will help your team identify what functionalities need to be improved before you go live. A bad user experience can have a negative effect on not only the single program but the brand as a whole.

7. Optimize. 
Do not just assume your program can be turned on and left as is, especially if running inefficiently. Continually analyze and make adjustments as the program matures and the metrics and consumer feedback stream in.

Remember, do not forget the main goal of the program -- to generate leads -- but don't overlook the user experience and the many ways that a poorly executed program can cause more damage and negate the program's ambitions.

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