Lead validation in Internet marketing is critical.
Validating the Unknown
Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld liked to talk about the idea of “known unknowns” and “unknown unknowns” regarding intelligence gathering.
In his parlance, “known unknowns” are what you know you should know, but don’t. While “unknown unknowns” are what you don’t know and aren’t even aware you should know.
Although the secretary was famous for talking in circles and giving complicated answers to simple questions, “unknown unknowns” are a problem in any type of intelligence gathering—whether it’s in the interests of national security or optimizing an Internet marketing campaign. It’s those blind spots that can end up causing the most trouble.
Internet marketers often have a big blind spot when it comes to counting the sales leads generated by their websites. For too many marketers, the difference between conversions and true sales leads is an “unknown unknown.” This is why lead validation should be a part of every campaign.
Converting Leads Using Lead Validation
The Chicago SEO experts at Straight North have spent a lot of time combing through website conversions, examining more than 350,000 of them over the last few years.
What we discovered was that out of all those form submissions and phone calls, only about half of them turned out to be sales leads. The rest were interactions that could not and should not be counted toward sales lead totals.
These include job applications, incomplete form submissions and customer service requests. However, many Internet marketers rely on the raw conversion numbers from Google analytics to determine how many sales leads their sites have generated, so they end up basing decisions on incomplete data. The “unknown unknowns” can come back and bite them.
For example, a website may have two distinct sources that generate conversions. Looking at the raw analytics numbers provided by Google:
- Source A produces 50 conversions per month
- Source B generates 100 conversions
Most marketers would look at those numbers and conclude that Source B is the more effective source. They would then concentrate their efforts and resources on it.
Yet there’s an “unknown unknown” lurking in the data. Only lead validation can bring it to the surface and make it known.
Using a Lead Validation Process
Lead validation is the process by which Internet marketers scour their conversions and separate the true sales leads from the dead ends. This involves scrutinizing each form submission as well as listening to every phone call.
Although the process can be tedious and time-consuming, it can be worth the effort.
Looking back at the theoretical example above, lead validation may find that Source A’s 50 conversions contained 40 true sales leads, while Source B’s 100 conversions contained only 25 true sales leads.
Even though Source A generated a smaller number of overall conversions, it was far more effective in converting people who were serious about buying than Source B.
In contrast, Source B may have pulled in a lot of people looking for customer service help, but few people interested in buying. With that discrepancy coming to light, the marketer can go back and re-calibrate the website to concentrate on Source A and fine-tune Source B to pull in more sales leads.
All of this illustrates just how vital lead validation can be to an Internet marketing campaign. And why the marketers who leave it out of their campaigns can find themselves blindsided by their lack of crucial information. In the Information Age, having any “unknown unknowns” lurking in your data can be a disaster that leaves you scrambling to pick up the pieces.
Through the lead validation process, you can be sure that the information you collect from your website will be giving you the most accurate picture of its success.
What does your lead validation process look like? Comment below, I'd love to hear more!
About the Author:
Aaron Wittersheim is Chief Operating Officer at Straight North, an Internet marketing agency. His focus is on Internet marketing and website services, and technology.