The Update: Fundamentals of marketing leads

0:02 MARY ELLEN: Today every lead counts more than ever, 0:07 because businesses have fewer

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MARY ELLEN: Today every lead counts more than ever,

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because businesses have fewer hours of operation, smaller staffs,

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so it’s critical to find customers that are really right in that window

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and closest to buying a product or service.

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NATALIE: In this episode of the update, I talk with Mary Ellen Coe

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about how to connect with new customers by tapping into intent.

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Can you talk a little bit about the typical customer journey

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that advertisers are thinking about when they’re creating their lead gen strategies?

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MARY ELLEN: Lead gen really often involves complex individual journeys with a lot of touchpoints.

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Let me give you a very simple example of that.

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Our research shows that the purchase process for car insurance can take over a hundred days,

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220 digital touchpoints.

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So what’s important in those journeys is that they really show signals of the customer intent.

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Specific type of insurance, the features that they’re interested in.

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And given how long and complicated these journeys can get,

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our most successful advertisers

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really focus on these signals to create the best lead gen strategies.

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NATALIE: Tapping into that intent is so critical.

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What are some of the other trends that you’ve been seeing

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in terms of how customers are connecting with businesses

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who are really focused on lead gen right now?

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MARY ELLEN: So as people are spending more time online,

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they’re searching a lot more and they’re searching differently.

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So, that means those signals of intent are changing a lot.

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And there’s a really big opportunity for our businesses to connect with new customers

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and really increase their lead volume.

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We know from consumers, those who’ve tried new brands since the pandemic,

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more than half of them said they had to do it out of necessity.

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Just a simple example that really brings this to life: telemedicine.

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Alright there’s been an incredible surge in telemedicine,

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And so typically, an advertiser or telemed business would just be looking at keywords.

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But now they would add geolocation as a way to refine that customer search.

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We also see successful businesses use a whole new variety of ways to reach their customers.

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That could be web forms, chat, email, phone,

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in place of the in-person visits that have slowed down so significantly.

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NATALIE: In this new environment, are there challenges that you’re seeing as businesses are trying to generate new leads?

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MARY ELLEN: Getting quality leads has always been the number one challenge for businesses.

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70% of marketers will tell you

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working on lead gen means improving the quality leads

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is the most important objective for their lead gen strategies.

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And let me explain when we talk about quality, we’re talking about people with high purchase intent.

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Potential customers with a really good chance of buying a product or service.

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You spend less time and resources converting customers

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and that means higher lifetime value for these businesses who are really in tough economic times.

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NATALIE: So knowing that advertisers really want to improve quality,

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what are the opportunities as they start to revisit their lead gen strategies?

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MARY ELLEN: As everyone’s experiencing shifts in behavior,

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it comes down to reaching the right people with the right message at the right time.

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Very simple example of that, going back to car insurance.

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Consumers are searching for insurance advice and maybe they fit into a travel enthusiast segment.

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So, families are planning; right now there’s an increase in volume in travel by car.

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So we might want to look at keyword and audience strategies to match that.

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One of the great ways to do that is to use Google’s optimization score,

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and that identifies opportunities for businesses to improve their campaign setup.

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The other thing we’re seeing is that successful advertisers are using testing.

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Testing with formats, like lead form extensions across search, YouTube discover as another example.

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So, really focusing on the fundamentals can make a big difference in the performance right now.

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NATALIE: Can you also talk a little bit about closing leads

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and how advertisers can become more efficient in that whole process?

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MARY ELLEN: Let’s go back to the car insurance example I used earlier.

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Say a customer purchases a driver plan after talking to a sales rep offline.

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By using that advertiser CRM data with intent signals from Google properties,

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they can build a view of an ideal customer and their needs.

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And so that means in terms of efficiency, we’re seeing our most successful advertisers

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use measurement tools like offline conversion tracking in combination with Smart Bidding.

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So they tie back what happens offline

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with how to best optimize their bids and find those high-intent customers.

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NATALIE: You and your team work with so many businesses. Who’s getting this right?

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MARY ELLEN: So if we look across lead gen advertisers across like education, B2B, healthcare,

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we see our most successful advertisers

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use automation to refine their keywords, audience, and creative to drive better outcomes.

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We work with a startup called ZenBusiness,

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and it’s a company that makes it easy for entrepreneurs

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to start and grow really successful businesses.

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After COVID hit, ZenBusiness wanted to hit their target customer acquisition costs

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and scale conversion volume.

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They combined their own data with Smart Bidding

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and focused on the highest-potential leads,

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and they’ve grown their customer base over 400%,

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while they’ve decreased their acquisition cost by 25%.

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So this is really the type of performance we love to see for our customers,

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and it makes a really big difference in how they can grow their business really efficiently.

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NATALIE: So as you look to the back half of the year, million-dollar question:

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What advice would you give to marketers who are focused on lead generation?

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MARY ELLEN: Keep up with all those changing customer behaviors.

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Number two, scaling growth means leaning into automation.

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This can really help businesses grow based on real-time, high-quality signals of intent.

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And then finally, accelerating online lead gen strategies is a really big task,

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and it’s really about testing and learning what works.

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I’ve been so inspired by the resilience of all of our advertisers.

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Despite really big business changes, they’ve taken this opportunity

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to build high-quality leads, grow their businesses,

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and help customers all over the world.