Online lead generation can be a very useful tool for bands in their online customer acquisition strategy but a branded campaign is not always the best way to generate leads.

At its most basic level, lead generation provides an advertiser with a ready-made pipeline of prospective customers that should be primed to interact with their brand.

Of course, the method of interaction will vary considerably from advertiser to advertiser and depend on campaign objectives but fundamentally the consumer should at least be ready for further contact.

The received wisdom, especially in the Agency world, is that the first messaging a consumer sees should be branded. However, branded is not always best.

For a branded lead generation campaign there often has to be a fairly obvious “quid pro quo” to entice the consumer to submit their details, such as free sim cards, prize draws, giveaways etc. and this will of course affect the performance of a campaign. Many of those consumers that respond are more interested in the “quid” than the “quo”.

If the advertiser is using a co-registration model to generate the leads then the consumers will most likely be on a publisher site that both has nothing to do with the advertiser or the product or service they provide. Again in this scenario, in order to get the consumer to interact with the advertiser’s brand there often needs to be an incentive. Now these methods of generating leads can be very effective, especially for a strong brand with a relevant incentive but it is important to note that this is not the only option.
 
For some sectors and certain products and services an unbranded lead generation campaign can often be much more effective. One particular area suited to this kind of execution is financial services lead generation where leads are often put into call centres and the value of a conversion is relatively high. A quick history lesson will help put this into perspective.
 
In the UK, the financial services industry was one of the first to take advantage of a trend for consumers to go online to compare products and services. Large money portals allowed consumers to compare multiple branded products in once place and due to the complex nature of financial services the traffic was very sticky. This offered a massive opportunity for advertisers to reach a much more targeted audience and often consumers just wanted to speak to somebody for advice so they would fill in a form to be contacted and thus becoming a lead for advertisers to purchase. 

In this situation, the consumer is embarking on a non-branded journey. They are looking for advice and to be contacted about a product or service rather than to be contacted by a specific brand. Of course brand awareness my influence their ultimate purchasing decisions but this is not why they filled in that form in the first place.

The other main advantage for advertisers using an unbranded execution, whatever the vertical, is that it is often a “plug and play” solution. There is not much campaign planning required, no creatives to be made, no forms to test and integrate, no validation to set up etc. All advertisers really need to know is what their CPA target is and how many leads they can get for their budget.

At the same time, publishers are increasingly using lead generation to monetise their traffic and the “plug-and-play” solution is very attractive to them. Vertical specific comparison and portal type sites are springing up everywhere aggregating consumer audiences around a specific set of products and services and many of these consumers will end up becoming leads. This can really only be achieved effectively from a non-branded execution.

Ultimately whether an advertiser uses a branded or non-branded lead generation solution will vary on many different factors but advertisers and their agencies need to realise that sometimes the brand can get in the way of a good lead!