Restoring the Buyer-Seller Equilibrium in Customer Acquisition

Originally published in MarTechAdvisor on March 28, 2019.

Today’s lead buyers are tired of throwing money at often-unqualified leads and hoping that something sticks.

In other areas of marketing, such as media buying, this blind approach and use of resources have long been unacceptable — and soon it will be within the realm of customer acquisition.

Frans van Hulle of PX shares areas where today’s lead buyers are demanding greater accountability and ROI from the marketplace.

For years, sellers have held all of the power in the customer acquisition industry. The purchasing of leads—a process that has typically been fractured across many vendors, all with disparate processes and systems—has historically happened in an opaque environment with little accountability and significant inefficiencies. But at last, all of that is changing.

Today’s lead buyers are tired of throwing money at often-unqualified leads and hoping that something sticks. In other areas of marketing, such as media buying, this blind approach and use of resources have long been unacceptable—and soon it will be within the realm of customer acquisition. Here are the five core areas where today’s lead buyers are demanding greater accountability and ROI from the marketplace.

Transparency

Transparency is a generic buzzword that’s batted around quite a bit in marketing, but when it comes to customer acquisition, its meaning is very tangible. Quite simply, today’s lead buyers should be able to see exactly where their leads came from and what the consumer journeys looked like leading up to the point of capture. They should be able to easily discern the site and form on which a given lead originated. If a lead has been sold and resold, the buyer deserves visibility into that fact. Likewise, by having insight into the consumer journey of a lead, the buyer can better tune their acquisition strategy to speak to where that given prospect is in relation to a likely purchase.

Transparency also applies to visibility into performance. In addition to understanding the origins of a given lead, a lead buyer must also be able to discern the true performance drivers behind their leads. What factors about a given lead contributed to its conversion (or lack thereof)?

Compliance

Compliance is all about helping lead buyers be able to proactively defend themselves against any areas of risk when it comes to industry practices and regulations. In line with the above point on transparency, buyers must have access to tools that let them confirm and demonstrate that their leads were acquired and used in a manner that’s compliant with regulations like the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), and any other applicable vertical-specific regulations related to customer acquisition tactics.

Control

Control is all about being able to execute on decisions as quickly as those decisions are made. In this regard, today’s lead buyers should have access to a customer acquisition platform that grants them control over the audience that they’re targeting, the scale of their programs and the pricing of their programs.

The process of moving from insights to decisions to actions should all happen in one place, and today’s customer acquisition suppliers and vendors need to enable such environments. Historically, if lead buyers wanted to make a pricing change in their campaigns, and they’re working with 25 publishers or lead sellers, they’ve been forced to make 25 calls or send 25 emails—and then hope their messages get through in a timely fashion. That’s simply not an acceptable process in this day and age. Today’s buyers need a place where they can visualize their customer acquisition data and take immediate action, across all vendors, based on what they see.

Results

The need to both see and be able to influence the results of customer acquisition efforts ties into the broader need for transparency. Buyers need an open lead marketplace and must have a unified view of their efforts and be able to understand, both at a glance and over a period of time, what is performing and what is not.

Performance, in this sense, goes deeper than conversions. Buyers need tools that allow them to see the percentage of leads from any given buy that they were able to contact, how much interest and intent they were able to garner and, yes, whether those leads ultimately converted into customers. Likewise, did those new customers go on to make repeat purchases? In allowing lead buyers to easily see the results of their campaigns, such tools must also let the buyers customize their view of success according to their own KPIs, be it better returns, decreased acquisition costs or growth in market share.

Efficiency

Finally, today’s lead buyers are clamoring for tools that can help them run their customer acquisition efforts more efficiently. The process of managing campaigns across 25 vendors can be extremely labor-intensive and time-consuming. Furthermore, the process of integrating a single new publisher or vendor into a buyer’s system can take up to six months, and in the end, a majority of those partnerships won’t be deemed productive enough to maintain for the long term. To avoid such wasteful use of time and resources, buyers need customer acquisition platform that enables them to quickly and easily test new vendors and work with all existing vendors, in real-time, via a single interface.

For today’s lead buyers, these five pillars of accountability and campaign governance are quickly becoming table stakes for customer acquisition success. The technology to enable these pillars exists, and the expectations for its success are well-founded, given that a similar revolution has already occurred on the media-buying side of the marketing industry. As the industry begins to adopt new technologies that enable greater insights for buyers, the pendulum of power between buyers and sellers is finally beginning to swing back to a point of equilibrium.