It was a pleasure speaking at LeadsCon on March 20, 2013 in a panel discussion titled: “I See What You See: Removing Risk & Adding Trust Into the Lead Generation Transaction.”  I was joined on the panel by Dale Leatherwood of CUnet and Ross Shanken of LeadId. The panel was moderated by Dave Scott of Marketfish. Thanks to these gentleman for engaging in a thoughtful and lively discussion.

Steve Rafferty speaking on Lead Certification Panel at LeadsCon West 2013    Lead Certification Panel LeadsCon West 2013

Just a year ago, at LeadsCon Las Vegas 2012, I introduced the concept of independent lead certification at the New Technology showcase when I presented TrustedForm Certified Leads. It is really exciting to see how quickly lead certification has been accepted in the industry – enough to warrant a panel discussion at this year’s LeadsCon.

The panel discussion focused on three major themes:

1) There is value in all types of leads, but buyers need to know what they are buying. 
Lead buyers need to be able to accurately identify what they are buying so that they can properly value it. For example, in the financial markets there are junk bonds and penny stocks. There is a healthy market for these products because they are properly priced for the associated risk. In the world of online lead generation, it’s difficult to value an individual Internet lead without knowing when, where, and how it was generated. Consider two leads with identical fields: one is a $3 co-registration lead and the other is a $30 lead generated from a stand-alone branded website. If you buy the latter one, you may think you are buying a $30 lead when you are actually getting a $3 lead. Lead Certification allows buyers to independently verify what they are buying so they can pay the right price.

2) Bad leads in ecosystem create downward pricing pressure.
Lead buyers have come to accept that a percentage of the leads they buy are junk. As a result, they lower lead prices to compensate for the lower conversion rate. As prices decline, lead vendors have to resort to cheaper ways to generate leads in order to maintain the same margin. This lowers the quality even further, resulting in buyers lowering prices again. The result is a vicious pricing cycle. I was pleased to be able to share the story of one of ActiveProspect’s clients who was able to break this cycle. They required all of their lead vendors to provide leads that have been certified by ActiveProspect’s TrustedForm solution. 100% of their leads are now certified by TrustedForm. By only accepting certified leads, they were able to cut out a lot of the garbage they were buying and thus dramatically increase their effective conversion rate. As a result, they were able to double the payouts for good leads while still improving ROI. This was a win for both the lead buyer and the lead sellers providing quality leads.

3) Industry is facing increased regulatory scrutiny.
It seems like every day there is more scrutiny into the way Internet leads are generated. In September 2012, a group of Senators wrote a letter to the FTC calling for a federal investigation into the practices of lead generators and other third party marketing companies. The letter expressed concerns regarding the aggressive practices of companies generating leads for for-profit colleges. The FCC recently updated the TCPA rules to require prior express written consent for calls to consumers using an auto-dialer. Lead certification services allow a lead buyer to independently identify the origin of an Internet lead. By knowing where the leads originate, they can better control the marketing. In the case of the TCPA rules, ActiveProspect’s TrustedForm solution is a simple way to maintain proof of consent for Internet leads since it captures a real-time screenshot of exactly what the consumer saw when they submitted the form.

I look forward to continuing these discussions at future events.