04 Nov Conversions… where’re they headed?
For everyone who has been in the lead generation industry even for a short while and especially those who’ve been around for a number of years, it’s obvious Publisher revenues are determined, in an outsized way, by the conversion of a potential buyer or applicant who’s being sent to the Advertiser into a response (action) that satisfies the Advertiser. This is the basis of internet marketing. So good, so far, until now when we’re beginning to see and hear from Publishers, as well as networks, that conversion rates are steadily declining across all lead generation methods and all Advertisers.
Where several years ago, an average conversion ratio of an email marketer may have been approximately 15%, today it’s often half that or even less! Same for other forms of lead generation, often also including “search”. Why? That’s a hard question to answer. What one can see is a pervasive long term trend to lower and lower conversion rates. The rational answer would be that more and more applicants are going to an Advertiser’s form but few and fewer of them are filling out the form. This just doesn’t sound logical and it’s hard to understand what would make such a thing happen.
In some of the large lead markets, like auto insurance, one could argue that the value of a single potential applicant today going to a lead form has become almost valueless as it takes many, many clicks to create a conversion. But there’s also the possibility that things are not always as they appear. Two parallel but opposing trends have been developing simultaneously with the decline in conversion rates.
First, more and more lead forms have moved under the total control of the Advertiser and they are the only party that actually has accurate information as to what’s taking place. The Publisher has to rely on the Advertiser to provide all statistical data in regard to their traffic to the Advertiser. Secondly, Publishers have gotten more and more “resourceful” in using their data and technology. More and more Publishers can make third party data that they have purchased appear to be an actual “live” applicant filling out a lead form. The results can vary widely.
As in most rapid technological changes, it’s doesn’t take long for both sides to keep ramping up their efforts and level of sophistication. At the end of the process, a lead has to be created that an Advertiser can use or “monetize”. In the current process, this fact can easily get lost.
As technology in the lead marketplace continues to evolve, it looks like this process can continue to go on for the foreseeable future. More and more “clicks / leads” generated and lower and lower conversion rates. At some point it would seem this has to get intolerable for Publishers and new, radically innovative solutions start emerging providing real applicants and fully transparent processes. This can be an exciting time creating a more equitable marketplace for everyone involved. These changes aren’t here yet……just keep your fingers crossed! It can’t happen too soon!