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Mobile?s role in lead generation grows as conversions blow past 25pc

Mobile presents a unique set of challenges for marketers looking to generate online leads, but also a growing opportunity for those who get it right, with sales conversions averaging more than 25 percent in some cases.

Insurance companies, cable television providers and other marketers that heavily use online lead generation campaigns are experiencing an increase in the amount of traffic from mobile devices. However, most are still in the early stages of figuring out how to optimize their efforts for mobile users.

?Mobile is becoming increasingly important for lead generation as consumers turn more and more to their mobile phones to search for services and view a greater share of media,? said John Busby, senior vice president of the Marchex Institute, Seattle, WA. ?It?s also changing.

?Consumers are much more likely to make a phone call from their smartphones than fill out a form for a number of reasons - smartphones can be clunky for form-fills,? he said. ?And it?s a phone, after all.

?Smartphone consumers also have a greater sense of urgency from their searches. Google has recently presented research that most conversions happen within an hour, and we?ve seen a similar phenomenon in our own data.?

Mobile conversions
Mobile has not solved for some of the challenges in the lead generation or call generation space, such as spam or fraud. In some cases, more than 90 percent of actions are without purchase intent.

There have also been examples of fake phone calls designed to seem like true prospects.

However, for campaigns that can address these issues effectively, the results from mobile are impressive.

?For campaigns that have effective ways to identify and filter out spam, fraud, and other low-intent actions, the mobile consumer is very likely to convert,? Mr. Busby said.

?Our data show that campaigns convert into appointments at a 50 percent rate and average conversions (sales) average more than 25 percent,? he said.

?We?ve seen this with local categories, such as exterminators or plumbers, and national campaigns for categories such as cable & satellite TV providers, travel or storage.?

Shorter is better
ReviMedia, a company focused on generating leads for insurance and automotive companies, reports that its organic mobile traffic grew from 5 percent to almost 30 percent in the past 18 months.

The challenge is how to convert this mobile traffic into a lead because it has to be treated differently than desktop traffic.

One of the challenges is technical in terms of how to make the page look right on all browsers.

Then there is the issue of lead forms, which traditionally can have up to 20 fields.

On a mobile device, which has smaller screens, users are unlikely to hang around to fill out so many different fields.

?A mobile form is completely different than a form on your laptop - it needs to have bigger fields, more pages and less fields,? said Frans Van Hulle, CEO of ReviMedia, New York.

?Anything that you can do to shorten the form to avoid the user having to fill in all that information which they normally would have to will improve the conversion,? he said.

A sense of urgency
ReviMedia uses external databases for telephone numbers, ZIP code match and others to verify if lead information is correct. Using reverse engineering, the company is able to fill in some of the information automatically so the user does not have to.

For example, if a user inputs a ZIP code, ReviMedia can verify the location and then, with the telephone number, it can get the address in 90 percent of the cases.

?When we did that, we increased the conversion by 50 percent because the form is much shorter,? Mr. Van Hulle said.

Another challenge is crafting campaigns that address the different behavior of mobile users compared to desktop users.

In general, mobile users are more impatient and have a greater sense of urgency to their interest.

This is why click-to-call tends to be heavily used in lead generation efforts.

?Instead of filling in a form, users can call right away to talk to an agent,? Mr. Van Hulle said. ?That conversion of smartphone traffic is much higher than on any other source.

?Allstate is the most advanced in this area,? he said. ?They have been able to monetize their mobile traffic by adding the click-to-call element and capturing those calls right away to their call center.?

The marketer has been actively engaging in mobile to drive leads via a variety of strategies, including its own branded apps, sponsorships of other apps and with mobile elements for its sports sponsorships.

Providing choice
Mobile traffic is also harder to track because cookies are less supported.

Overall, many marketers still have a lot to learn about how to conduct mobile lead generation campaigns, with some big brands still treating mobile leads the same as desktop leads.

?Marketers should provide consumers a choice on how they?d like to interact with a business,? Marchex? Mr. Busby said.

?Consumers may want to conduct additional research, provide lead information or make a phone call,? he said. ?Successful campaigns test these outcomes and adapt accordingly.

?In addition, marketers must match their creativity in campaign management with diligence in measurement. There is a significant amount of variation in quality in mobile publishing - that makes tracking through to conversions critical at this stage.?

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York