Tuesday, September 07, 2010

True Influence's LeadPAC Offers Pay-Per-Click Email. Think About It.

Summary: LeadPAC lets marketers pay for email responses as easily as they pay for search responses. It’s a major improvement over traditional lead generation.

I can’t recall a vendor with the same business model as LeadPAC from marketing automation vendor True Influence. That's pretty rare in itself, but what really matters is that LeadPAC's model offers some powerful benefits. That's worth some excitement.

So what, exactly, makes LeadPAC so special?

LeadPAC lets marketers order prospect lists based on segmentation criteria such as title, industry and company size. Nothing new there. The system will also send emails to those names without the marketer loading them into a separate system: a little harder to find but still far from unique. But here's the new part: users only pay for responses.

I’ve seen marketing agencies and direct response media that work on a cost-per-lead basis. But I’ve never seen it baked into the email engine of a marketing automation system. If you're aware of a similar product, please let me know.

Of course, the classic pay-per-click medium is paid search, and above all Google AdWords. It's no accident that LeadPAC resembles AdWords in both function and appearance. True Influence CEO Brian Giese said the goal with LeadPAC is to give marketers a way to create real leads quickly, using AdWords as a model.

Like AdWords, LeadPAC lets clients set a target cost per name and a weekly budget for their spending. Again like AdWords, the system keeps sending promotions – in this case, emails – until the budget is reached. The system further resembles AdWords in having some automated intelligence: in the case of LeadPAC, this means spacing the emails, limiting any name to one contact per week, and taking into account different response rates based on time of day and day of week. One thing it doesn't do – yet – is build predictive models to select the most responsive names within the specified universe. Nor is pricing based on AdWords-style bidding: clients pay a fixed fee ranging from $10 to $30 per name depending on the level (senior executives cost more than department managers). Just to be clear, that's all they pay: there's no fee for the marketing automation system itself.

Setting up a campaign in LeadPAC involves three basic steps.

- Select the audience by choosing from personal and company attributes including title, department, level, location, company size and ownership. The prospects come through LeadPAC’s partnerships with major consumer and business list vendors.

- Define the email to send, starting either with vendor-provided templates or by uploading a client's own template. LeadPAC provides a typical editor and standard features such as previewing the email and sending test messages.

- Define the campaign start date and weekly spending limit. Once clients submit their campaign, LeadPAC reviews it for content, reasonableness and compliance with anti-spam regulations.

Clients receive lists of responders on a regular basis. They can load these into any marketing automation system or True Influence's own marketing automation product, which lets them run multi-step nurture campaigns, apply lead scores, and synchronize data with Salesforce.com.

The beauty of all this, as with AdWords, is simplicity. Clients still need to specify their audience and create their email offer. But the cost-per-response model saves them the effort of managing details such as importing and refreshing lists, spacing their mailings over time, and tracking which segments respond best. This takes usability beyond the interface, by actually eliminating tasks rather than just making them easier to do. It makes email lead generation possible for companies that lack even basic skills in managing such programs.

Indeed, clients paying only for responses have little incentive to optimize their list selections or their copy. The vendor alone bears the cost of low response rates. This is probably part of the reason that True Influence reviews the campaigns for reasonableness.

Interestingly, one cure for this problem is to have clients do even less. If TrueInfluence deployed automated response modeling, it could avoid having anyone define target segments and still improve its response rates. Add some automated copy testing and marketers would be about as close to push-button lead generation as I can imagine.

Of course, email is just one part of lead generation and an even smaller part of full-scale marketing automation. So marketers will have plenty of work whether or not they use LeadPAC. But as an example of ways to really make marketing easier, LeadPAC is food for thought.

No comments: